Uvena Fernandes: A Squadron Leader, a football referee and a mom

Having tried her hand at sprinting, volleyball and even basketball among other sports, Uvena Fernandes decided to make the most of her fitness levels to become a qualified FIFA referee.

Off the field too Uvena handles a job that comes with lot of responsibility. She is a Squadron Leader and deputed in the Air Traffic Control section. “It is one of the most stringent jobs. As an ATC and a referee, I have to be unflinchingly alert. I have to take decisions very fast and need lot of concentration,” said Uvena.   -  Sushil Kumar Verma

Her son, all of three years, turned up for a football match to watch her take the field. He was not very impressed and came up with a pressing observation after a while.

“No one is passing the ball to mom.” Uvena Fernandes couldn’t stop laughing when she heard Barhaan’s “lovely lament”. How would the kid know that no one plays the ball to the referee.

Uvena stood out at the Ambedkar Stadium as she supervised the Subroto Cup matches and earned respect for her ability to be close to the ball. “It was my fitness that drove me to become a referee. I am proud of my job. It instils a sense of discipline and accuracy,” she notes.

Off the field, too, Uvena handles a job that comes with a lot of responsibility. She is a Squadron Leader and deputed in the Air Traffic Control section.

“It is one of the most stringent jobs. As an ATC and a referee, I have to be unflinchingly alert. I have to take decisions very fast and need a lot of concentration,” said Uvena.

For Uvena, life has revolved around the sporting arena. She has been a sprinter, tried her hand at handball, volleyball and basketball, even attempted tennikoit, all at the State level, before pursuing a career in football.

“I was in the India team, but realising my high level of fitness I thought I should try refereeing. I am glad I took that decision.”

A versatile person, Uvena, who hails from south Palolem, is good at music, dancing, gardening. She is good at football laws simply because she has also studied law apart from commerce. “I have a passion to learn and improve. I didn’t plan to join the Air Force, but it so happened that I was officiating a match and applied after seeing the Air Force discipline,” she says.

For Uvena, it is not a lonely world out on the field as many would believe. “We are a team — assistant officials. Without them no individual can work smoothly because there are substitutions and you have to control the bench too.”

Uvena, 36, a qualified FIFA referee, has an impressive list of games she has supervised in after a decent start as a player in the AFC cup in Bangkok. Five matches at the under-17 World Cup in Jordan have put her in contention for the 2019 World Cup in France. 

“It’s been a long and eventful journey. I get to do four to five matches a month and that keeps me focused and prepared. I keep telling myself I have to be what I am everyday. Be confident and proactive and do my best to control the game.”

The good behaviour of the players when she blows the whistle confirms her excellent work.