FIFA Referee Encourages Young Girls To Pursue Their Sporting Dreams in Nigeria

Mimisen Iyorhe (Mimi) has never been discouraged by the gender stereotypes and cultural barriers facing women in Nigeria. Growing up in a family that provided a strong support system, Mimi felt empowered from a young age to overcome inequalities in pursuit of her dreams. Now the highest-ranked FIFA Football referee under the Nigeria Football Federation, Mimi is opening doors for women and girls to follow their own sporting aspirations. Since gaining her FIFA accreditation, she has officiated two African Women’s Championship Tournaments, and in January 2021, alongside two other women, made history as the first all-female refereeing team for the African Men’s Championship Tournament. She is part of the FIFA Elite A Match officials and one of two Nigerian female referees preselected for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

When she’s not on the soccer pitch, Mimi champions young girls through her #GirlsthatRef program. She organizes clinics where she mentors young girls interested in sports who lack the structural support to pursue their goals. Mimi hopes that #GirlsThatRef will grow into a nationwide initiative that will further address issues of gender inequality while getting more young girls involved in refereeing. She knows the importance of female representation in all sectors of society and feels a deep-rooted sense of responsibility to ensure girls and women are given the time and resources to make their dreams come true.

Through her GSMP experience, Mimi hopes to acquire the skills and strategies to effect long-term positive change in Nigeria. For GSMP: Empowering Women through Sports 2021, Mimi will be mentored by Olga Harvey, Chief Strategy and Impact Officer and her team at the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York, New York.

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