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Vulivuli continues to lead by example

However the 31-year-old has never let that slow her down as she continues her ascent.
“Challenges and obstacles are all part of success,” Vulivuli explains.
“The various challenges I have overcome during my ten year refereeing career has made me the match official I am today. Football in Fiji is predominantly a male sport and so breaking that barrier was a great challenge.”
As she was starting out she faced the obvious challenge of having to prove herself alongside male counterparts to earn match appointments as well as the respect of the football community.
“With pure determination, hard-work and self-discipline I have been able to defy the odds and become the first female from the country to not only control some of the major local matches, but also to perform well on the international scene and represent my family, country and region proudly,” she says proudly.
Vulivuli set about breaking down gender barriers in 2013 when she took charge of the final of the Battle of the Giants between Ba and Lautoka. As she signalled for kick-off Vulivuli became the first female to officiate in the final of a major Fiji Football Association men’s tournament.
She was most recently involved in the year’s opening major men’s tournament, the 2014 Fiji FACT, where she was a key member of the referee pool.
On top of those domestic achievements, her international record speaks for itself as Vulivuli gets set to attend her fifth FIFA tournament following the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, and three FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cups – New Zealand 2008, Trinidad and Tobago 2010 and Azerbaijan 2012. She was also included among the officials for the 2012 London Olympic Games and has been a regular at OFC tournaments over the years.
Vulivuli says what has really helped her continue her climb to the top has been gaining the acceptance of the Fiji football community.
“I am privileged to have their support. The parent body, through the established Referee’s Department, have been supportive in ensuring that I am frequently appointed to matches and get instant feedback from national instructors,” she says.
“Likewise, for the past eight years of refereeing in the top local men’s league, I have never been discriminated against on the basis of gender by players, team officials or the community in general.
“I am grateful that the Referee’s Department has valued my contribution and recognised my abilities, which has allowed me to progress and succeed. I am truly indebted to them for all their unflinching support in allowing me to enjoy a talent I truly love.”
With such great passion for match officiating, Vulivuli has become somewhat of a role-model for women and girls in Fiji and around the region.
It’s not a role she takes lightly and says her most recent appointment is sure to inspire more people to want to follow in her footsteps.
“I have been involved in women’s development since 2005, firstly as a coach and then a referee,” she says.
“Even though I wasn’t an accredited instructor I combined the skills I’ve gained through teaching as a profession, with my knowledge of the game in order to develop young referees in my region from high school to district level.
“I have used refereeing as a tool to develop and empower young girls to build their social, human and sport skills. Through the various support and opportunities young girls start to create social networks, develop mental and emotional health and these are the base for greater confidence.”
Vulivuli will lead a trio from Oceania, completed by Jacqueline Stephenson and Sarah Walker of New Zealand, at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada from 5-24 August 2014.

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