• Thursday, Feb 27, 2020
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Of Joya and her football dream

  • Published at 12:09 am January 27th, 2020
Bangladeshi referee Joya Chakma

Joya Chakma talked to Dhaka Tribune in details about her refereeing, coaching and playing career for which she dedicated her hard-working life for the love and passion of the game

Joya Chakma’s recognition by Fifa to become the first international female referee from Bangladesh was just another feat the former national booter achieved in her 16-year involvement in the football arena, which also included hat-trick of titles at the Subrata Cup in India as the head coach of the BKSP women’s team. The 28-year old talked to Dhaka Tribune in details about her refereeing, coaching and playing career for which she dedicated her hard-working life for the love and passion of the game. Here are the excerpts: 

Why did you want to be a referee and coach?

I had nothing much to do in this arena after leaving the national team but I wanted to stay with football in any way. I had options to choose refereeing and coaching. Here we don’t have the trend that one has to go for either coaching or refereeing but I chose both. Women’s football in our country started more than a decade ago but still we don’t have enough female coaches or referees. I thought someone has to start and why not me.

But why both refereeing and coaching?

I can only stay as referee as long as I can run but when I can’t run anymore what will I do? You can be a coach at any age. When I was a footballer I liked the job of referee which is quite like an adventure. Coaching is more of a challenge but it’s also a platform to transfer your knowledge to others. The important thing is I can live with football which I consider as blessing. Besides, football is a big industry which will only get bigger. If you want to be a good football nation you also need good referees and coaches and I want to leave some contribution here.

How was the experience of conducting the first football match?

It was good to have done a refereeing course (Class 3) two years back which helped me to officiate a match of Bangamata Primary School Football Tournament in 2012. The match was held at the field of University of Dhaka but I can’t remember who were the two teams. I didn’t feel like I was doing something new. It was easy for me because I was a footballer and I knew the rules. 

Now that you have become the first female referee recognized by Fifa, how far do you want to go in this profession?

I conducted around 100 matches in different domestic matches (male and female). I was referee in the Pioneer (U-16) Football League in 2014-15, Bangabandhu and Bangamata school football tournaments and Bangladesh Youth Games in 2016. I completed class 2 refereeing course in 2015 and want to do the class 1 soon. I really worked hard for days and night to pass the Fifa fitness test while doing the BKSP job simultaneously. My goal is to go to any Fifa World Cup either as a referee or referee’s assistant or through any of my students.

Tell us about your coaching career, how did it start?

There were not much opportunities to start coaching at that time. I completed the AFC C License in 2013 before B Licence in 2018. I started coaching at Gono University when I was still a student of Jahangirnagar University. Gono started women’s football and they asked me to coach their new team for inter-department competition for one month. I trained them for two years in 2015 and 2016. Then BKSP started women’s football in March, 2016 and I applied when the circular was out and joined them in November. 

How has been your coaching experience with BKSP girls so far?

I led the BKSP team to Subrata Cup within seven months of my joining. The target was semi-final but we finished as champion beyond anyone’s expectation. I was also adjudged the best coach of the tournament. It was a challenge to retain the title the following year and we did it again against all the odds. It was more challenging in 2019 because I also had to give more time to refereeing but we managed to bring the trophy back home for the third time. We have not lost a single game in three editions. It has been like a dream in the last three years.

Now tell us about your playing career. When did you get called up to the national team?

It was in 2008. My first tournament was Indo-Bangla Games. I was a midfielder but unfortunately I never got chance in the playing XI. I was in the national team for four-five tournaments until 2012when I was excluded just before the Saff Championship. I played the first women’s football league in the same year for Dipali Jubo Sangha. I joined BJMC afterwards where I continued playing in domestic competitions until I retired in 2016. 

Is there any other sport you tried before?

I played athletics and handball in Shishu Academy when I was reading in class 4 at Kobi Arun Ray Government Primary School. When I entered high school I started playing more. I also took karate lessons. I started football in 2004 when I was at class 8.

Looking back in time, you must have noticed that you have left behind some legacy…

It is not possible to do all these things if you are not crazy. Because when my friends hang around, go to watch movies, I was not there. I went to sleep early, woke up early. I ran for four months to pass the fitness test. Still now, I’m continuing. It is because of dedication, passion to reach that level.