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HNS > Referees Committee

First female referee in Croatian First Division

Rođak Karšić: "Proud
and happy for the

Rođak Karšić: "Proud and happy for the opportunity entrusted"
photo by: HNS
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This week will be remembered in the world of Croatian referees. The first female referee was selected for a Croatian Cup match, and on Saturday she will rewrite history as the assistant referee in the Croatian First Division.

On Wednesday 28 October, in the Croatian Cup Round of 16 match between HAŠK and Osijek, Sanja Rođak Karšić became the first female assistant referee in this competition. On Saturday 31 October, she will also become the first female assistant referee in Croatian First Division, in the Lokomotiva - Osijek encounter.

Sanja Rođak Karšić started as a referee following her father at football matches. "In the beginning, it was pure curiosity, which later became both love and a job", she says.

She acquired her licence in 2001, with promotions in 2003 and 2005, until the FIFA badge came in 2009.

"It was difficult, more mentally than physically. Women in football are not easily accepted, but my role models were female referees who struggled for years and we needed to continue. I had help in form of advice, cooperation and communication, as well as family support", continues Rođak Karšić.

Ivan Košutić suggested her name for FIFA assistant referee lists, with Rođak Karšić admitting she wanted the main role. However, her interest in refereeing still prevailed.

In 2009, she was invited to referee the UEFA Women U-19 European Championship in Belarus, and afterwards new assignments were coming up one after another. In Wales, she was the assistant referee in UEFA Women U-19 European Championship semifinal match.

foto: HNS

Soon after the invitation for FIFA seminar in Portugal in 2012, Sanja Rođak Karšić was selected for the FIFA Women U-20 World Cup in Japan.

"That was a fantastic experience, a real challenge to live for a month at the other side of the world. The effort and work ethics finally paid off since our team of referees was also selected for the final match. That feeling can not be described, and it drove me forward".

In 2013, she was included in referee lists for the Croatian Second Division - as the second female referee after Blaženka Logarušić - while in 2014 she was invited with Lada Rojc to the FIFA Women U-17 World Cup. Therefore, two Croatians participated together in a major tournament, for the first time in history, and their appearance was crowned at the Opening Match and one semifinal match.

The door was therefore opened for the pinnacle of women's football, the World Cup in Canada, after Rođak Karšić passed the tests, seminars and the final of the Algarve Cup in Portugal.

"We started at the Opening Match, always a beautiful and important event, and after the quarterfinals I believed the tournament is over for our team. However, we were selected for the final, but unfortunately I got injured. That was the most difficult moment in my career, but life goes on. I have proudly held my head high and tried to recover as soon as possible".

This mentality paid off once again, and in 2015 she is to make history in Croatian First Division.

"I am very proud and happy for the opportunity entrusted. All these lovely people believe in me, and I want to show everyone they have chosen well. This was a long and demanding road, but everything is easier with effort and support. Of course, I desire more tournaments in the future. If somebody asked me ten years ago, I would have said all that is a dream of mine, but now I can say that dreams do come true. I would like to thank all the people in my county federation for support, they have believed in me from the start, as well as all the people in Croatian Football Federation who invest in me. Of course, the biggest thank you goes to my family for giving me wings".

foto: HNS

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