Oman's first woman basketball referee targets international stage

Fatma Hamood al Harthy (Muscat Daily)

After making history last year by becoming the first woman referee to officiate in the men's senior basketball league, Fatma Hamood al Harthy has now set her sights on international recognition.

Fatma has passed her first exam with the technical committee of the Oman Basketball Association (OBA) to be officially recognised as an OBA referee. She has also worked as a basketball umpire, which involves overseeing the game from the sidelines. She is now working on gaining more experience in the senior national league.

“I refereed in two games last season as I had enough experience as an umpire,” said Fatma. “So far I have officiated in more than 50 senior league matches as an umpire and a referee combined. I am happy that I am the first woman referee in the country and I hope it will inspire more women to take up sports, not just as players, but also in other roles.”

Thirty one year old Fatma is a teacher at Al Qurm Public School and also played for the women's national basketball team from 2003 to 2005. Her next goal is to become an international referee within two years, which will involve taking the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) exams.

Fatma, who is refereeing the ongoing 2011 Samsung Basketball League, said, “The first time that I took to the court in a men's match, I was nervous. But the players are indifferent to my gender. Sometimes they do argue with me on my decisions, but it’s never personal or never about me being a woman. I am more confident now and it is a learning experience every time I am on the court. The FIBA exams will be tough, but I am ready for the challenge.”

The mother of one also thanked her family, friends and OBA officials for their support and encouragement in her career so far. Younis al Zadjali, vice-chairman of the OBA technical committee and Oman's first FIBA qualified international referee, said, “FIBA certification is tough and she will need to work really hard for that.

Apart from the technical written tests in English, she will have to prepare herself to pass the physical tests, which include more than 60 laps of a court for women referees. Fatma has just started her career as a referee and she has a long way to go from here. Our support is with her and we hope she achieves her target.”

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