With women’s football becoming increasingly popular in the Arab world, it comes as no surprise to see more women taking up refereeing and officiating their games.
And that’s the reason why one Lebanese woman has gone a step further step; Doumouh Al Bakkar has made history after being the first women to officiate several men’s games, after she became one of the leading referees of women’s football in the her country.
Al Bakkar started out as a player before concentrating on coaching. After some time, 2014 would be a turning point in the life of the young Lebanese woman after she attended a “Referees of Tomorrow” training course, organised by Lebanon’s National FA.
On a recent interview with FIFA.com, Al Bakkar was asked how she went from being a player to a coach and finally, decided to be a referee.
“I participated in the “Referees of Tomorrow” course in 2014. It was a new challenge for me in the world of football and I wanted to gain new skills,” she said, “At that time, I liked the idea of taking charge of games, making sure they ran smoothly, and developing myself more in the world of football.”
Al Bakkar enjoyed remarkable success in her new profession, going on to officiate the Lebanese Women’s Cup final several times in addition to the Women’s League final.
She also refereed matches in the qualifiers for the AFC U-16 and U-19 Women’s Championships and the qualifiers for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, as well as several women’s tournaments in West Asia and women’s fixtures in Bahrain, UAE, Lebanon, and Jordan.
That’s when Al Bakkar’s excellent work earned her an international badge in 2016, allowing her to become one of most prominent female referees in Asia. She then refereed several friendly men’s games in addition to some second-division fixtures and youth tournaments.
She was also asked about the differences between taking charge of women’s and men’s games. Of course, having experienced both, Al Bakkar said:
“Women’s matches are different from men’s in terms of level, player experience and tactics. Football used to be a men’s sport. They therefore have much more experience and play many more games, which has an impact on the standard, performance and playing style.
“This in turn requires more physical effort, a different way of moving around the pitch, and a distinct refereeing style. I wouldn’t say men’s games are more difficult – in fact, they’re easier in terms of reading the game – but they require firm management and a strong personality.”
Al Bakkar believes that her success as a referee will motivate other girls to follow suit.
“I support every girl who loves football and wants to get into refereeing. I never hesitate to offer help and share my knowledge and experience with those I meet to encourage them to follow the same path.”
Finally, asked about her future goals as a professional referee, Al Bakkar concluded by saying:
“We want to represent Lebanon at the World Cup and I hope I can personally do this.
“I want [also] to succeed and make a good name for myself in Asia so that I can referee finals and then take part in the World Cup. However, if I can’t, I’m certain another female referee will make the finals because we’re learning and getting better at the job, and one day the opportunity will arise.
[After all] It’s a long journey that requires enormous perseverance.”
In the end, it’s undoubted that Al Bakkar aspires to make a name for herself internationally and hopes that one day a Lebanese woman will officiate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, something we all would gladly like to see happen in a near future.