Mothers Can Do Anything! AFC Elite Women Referee Panelist Kanika Barman on Her Journey


Many referees have their own stories of struggle. But balancing motherhood and work is something different. One such story of a great mother is that of Kanika Barman — who has successfully completed AFC Referee evaluation, and is recently selected for AFC Elite Women Referees Panel 2022.

“I feel very good to be able to enter this panel. It had cost me a lot in terms of my hard work, and the sacrifices of my family. I have to work harder to hold this place because it is just as difficult to hold the place,” Kanika told www.the-aiff.com.

Kanika hails from Siliguri and started her journey as an athlete at the age of 7. She was a state medallist in the long jump, 100 meters, and 200 meters sprints. But football fascinated her more. Hence, she left athletics and started her journey with football in 2009 with Barasat Youth Association in Kolkata Women’s League.

But in 2011, life took a different turn. CRA secretary came as a referee assessor for the 2nd Division I League and proposed her name to the Siliguri Referees Association.

“When they asked me if I wanted to be a referee, I said yes in one word. But my main concern was my parents, especially my mother. They did not allow me to go to Kolkata, and stay there. But after convincing them I started my refereeing career in 2012 with the exam for referees,” she said.

Kanika joined Project Future India in 2013 and became a National Referee in 2018. Since 2020, she became the FIFA Referee had officiated matches at the domestic and international front — such as SAFF U15 (2019), Indian Women’s League (2018, 2019,2022), Senior Women’s NFC and handled matches of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan SC in the Kolkata Premier League.

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Apart from her professional career, she is a mother as well who balances work and motherhood at the same time. Kanika believes that being a mother gives her all the strength to balance work and life.

“I am very lucky because my husband supports me a lot. When I am out for a tournament, he takes care of our daughter. So I don’t have to worry too much,” she smiled.

“It becomes a matter of balancing stuff. Mothers can do everything, and that’s true. Maybe that’s what gives me strength in a different way,” she expressed.

On being asked about her most difficult match, she said, “In a match of Khelo India University 2020 games, I had to give 9 red cards in the quarter-final match between Punjab vs Kerala which became history.”

Being a woman referee, Kanika shared her thoughts on the ups and lows of her life. “Yes, there are advantages as well as disadvantages. But if I can make the right decision and apply the law well, then the players will have to accept it. I have to keep my head cool and manage it from being near the ball.”

“If you are in any physical sport, you will need to be involved in physical training, and henceforth, stay healthy. Not everyone can live a disciplined life under current circumstances. You need to plan your day well, and find time out for some physical exercises,” Kanika concluded.

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