July 5, 2022

Catherine Adipo, Uganda’s first referee at WAFCON

By Peace Diane Bagala

Ugandan refereeing on the women’s front does not have a mammoth of references when it gets to greatness but, Catherine Constance Adipo Wejuli is one of the few that standout.

When Uganda was making her debut at the epitome of international football on the continent in 2000, another Ugandan was making her debut at the big stage, though on a different front – refereeing.

Adipo was about to make her country just as proud as the Crested Cranes were, albeit, on her own – ‘a one lady army.’

“I was watching a league game at Nakivubo twenty two years ago when my boss unearthed the good news to me, but, the words are still fresh in my ears,” revealed Adipo, the first Ugandan to officiate at the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON)

“Then FUFA president, the late Denis Obua broke the good news to me, I was happy, I froze, I melted, I couldn’t believe it.”

“A major tournament summon is what I was itching for. Having not been appointed for any game despite being a FIFA referee for five years since 1995, hearing the news was good music to my career’s desperate soul,” she added.

Adipo banked on her resilience, character and confidence garnered from officiating big games with big stars. Stage-fright was no where next to her on the much anticipated debut.

“I was not nervous at all, I had spent a long time in center of big games with male players of all sizes and character, I was just ready to take on the challenge,” she noted.

Adipo, also the first FIFA female referee in Uganda and CECAFA region was further delighted to be in center for the 6-0 semi-final as Nigeria beat Zimbabwe, a feat she preciously holds with high gratitude to-date.

The CAF Referee Assessor was further appointed for the next tournament in 2002 and 2004 respectively, both held in Nigeria.

Stepping in Adipo’s footsteps is Shamira Nabadda who made the officials’ list in the forthcoming tournament in Morocco.

In reference to Nabadda’s appointment, the sports science lecturer at Kyambogo University is cognizant of the challenges encountered by women and the whistle, but is optimistic what is ahead is bright.

About the future of female refereeing in reference to Nabadda’s appointment, the sports science lecturer at Kyambogo University is cognizant of the challenges encountered by women and the whistle, but is optimistic what is ahead is bright.

“There is absolute talent in female refereeing in the country, I have high hopes in Nabadda and other female referees but, we have to follow the CAF guidelines to bear fruit.”

The mother of two is now a CAF referee instructor, referee technical coach, FUFA referee technical instructor, FUFA/CAF and FIFA referee Assessor.

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