Kozhikode: When Stephanie Frappart blows the whistle to kick off the Germany vs Costa Rica match in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it will be an ultimate triumph for women referees and also for Maria Rebello. Hailing from Goa, Maria is the first woman to officiate men's I-League matches and the Santosh Trophy.
"This is a historic moment that will motivate people like us. I have been part of almost all men's football tournaments in the country. More women will enter this profession in the near future," she told Mathrubhumi.
Maria became active in refereeing by officiating cluster matches of the Santosh Trophy Tournament in 2010. She is also the former captain of the India women's football team. Later, she was appointed to the I-League referees list for the 2013–14 season and has been a FIFA-listed referee since 2011.
During the U-17 FIFA Women's World Cup in India, Maria was appointed as the referee assessor for the tournament.
Born in Curtorim, Goa, Rebello started to play football from a young age and went on to captain the India team in the 2001 AFC women's Championship. She then retired from the game early on in her career and tried her luck in refereeing. She first refereed matches for men in the Goan local leagues and later refereed matches in the SAFF Championship.