Rwandan international football referee Salima Rhadia Mukasanga returned to the country on Saturday to a triumphant welcome from participating in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2021), taking place in Cameroon.
Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport, Mukansanga was welcomed by fellow referees and Henry Muhire, the Secretary General of the Rwanda Football Federation (FERWAFA), who presented her with flowers for a job well done in Cameroon.
History-making Mukansanga, who became the first woman to referee a match in the history of the continental tournament, thank all Rwandans for the support she was accorded up to this time.
“I want to thank the leadership of our country which works to empower us everyday and gives us the platform to express ourselves. Our want to thank President Paul Kagame for his support and the First Lady for being exemplary and for always encouraging us to be confident and work hard, towards being what we want to be,” a beaming Mukansanga said.
“I want to thank my fellow referees for walking with me through this journey. I wouldn’t be here without them because we have work together on the pitch for things to happen. I want to thank the media for always sharing information with the public. Without you the people wouldn’t know what is going,” Mukansanga told journalists.
The 35-year-old referee made history on January 18, 2022 when she officiated the Zimbabwe vs Guinea in the group stages of AFCON, becoming the first woman to officiate a men’s game on the continent. An emotional Mukansanga said that she hopes her achievement can inspire women and girls to go after the goals.