Africa: Malawian Referee Kwimbira Excited With Olympic Games Return

Malawian Elite A Assistant Referee, Bernadette Kwimbira said she is excited to retain her seat on the officiating panel for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Kwimbira is among 50 FIFA Assistant Referees selected for the Games, in addition to 25 referees, 20 video assistant (VAR) match officials and four support referees.

Kwimbira told CAFOnline.com that she never imagined that she would earn selection again after having appeared in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

"The chances for a return to one of the biggest world football stages were so minimal. I am so excited and thankful to God that His grace and favor has fallen on me again five years after the Rio 2016 Olympics," she told CAFOnline.com.

The Malawian, who has officiated at the Women's Africa Cup of Nations and FIFA Women's World Cup, said she is ready for the Olympic Games challenge.

"This is where you meet top teams from around the globe. As a match official, you really need to be on top of your game, and FIFA does not accept anything below average," Kwimbira said.

Kwimbira said she was retracing the footsteps of former CAF Refereeing Manager, Bester Kalombo, the first Malawian referee to appear in Olympics and AFCON finals.

"Mr. Kalombo will always be my mentor. I respect him a lot. He was one of the first people I called when I received an email of my appointment for Tokyo Olympics. He was so happy with the news and so proud of his contribution to this success," she added.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Head of Referees, Maxwell Mtonga, has since hailed Kwimbira for making the grade.

"Kwimbira's appointment shows that she is highly rated for her character and performance both on and off the pitch. The two appointments are very good for her career as well as recognition for Malawi since she will be holding our Flag. As a department, we have always urged other referees to emulate Kwimbira's character if they are to go places like her," Mtonga told FAM website.

The Tokyo Olympics women's football tournament starts on 21 July 2021 with Great Britain facing Chile at the Sapporo Dome, and concludes with the gold medal game on 6 August 2021 at the Olympic Stadium.

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