FIFA-badged Nigerian referee, Mimisen drops the whistle after 12 years

by Joseph Omoniyi
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Mimisen Iyorhe, a FIFA badged Nigerian referee, has announced her retirement from the field after a successful 12-year career. Known as “Mimi” to her colleagues and fans, she has made a name for herself as a trailblazer for women in the male-dominated world of soccer refereeing in Nigeria.

Growing up in a supportive family, Mimi was never discouraged by the gender stereotypes and cultural barriers facing women in her country. She pursued her passion for soccer and gained her FIFA accreditation, becoming the highest-ranked FIFA referee under the Nigeria Football Federation.

Throughout her career, Mimi has officiated at two African Women’s Championship Tournaments and in January 2021, she made history as part of the first all-female refereeing team for the African Men’s Championship Tournament. She has also been preselected for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to her on-field accomplishments, Mimi has also been a vocal advocate for young girls in sports. Through her #GirlsthatRef program, she organizes clinics where she mentors young girls who are interested in sports but lack the structural support to pursue their goals. Her goal is to grow the program into a nationwide initiative that addresses issues of gender inequality and encourages more young girls to get involved in refereeing.

Despite her many achievements and the barriers she has broken, Mimi Iyorhe has announced her retirement from the field of refereeing after 12 years of service. The highly respected FIFA badged official has made a significant impact on the soccer community in Nigeria, and her contributions will not be forgotten.

Throughout her career, Mimi has consistently proven herself to be a dedicated and skilled official, and her performances have earned her the respect of her peers and players alike. She has officiated at numerous important matches and tournaments, including two African Women’s Championship Tournaments and the historic all-female refereeing team for the African Men’s Championship Tournament in January 2021.

Mimi’s work has not only been limited to the field of play. She has also been a tireless advocate for young girls interested in sports, and her #GirlsthatRef program has provided mentorship and support to countless young girls who lack the structural support to pursue their goals. She hopes that this initiative will continue to grow and address issues of gender inequality in Nigeria.

In recognition of her contributions, Mimi was selected to participate in the Global Sports Mentoring Program: Empowering Women through Sports in 2021, where she was mentored by Olga Harvey, Chief Strategy and Impact Officer and her team at the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York.

Mimi Iyorhe’s retirement marks the end of an era, but her legacy will live on through the many young girls and women who have been inspired by her to pursue their own dreams in the world of sports. Her determination, skill and passion have made a real difference in the lives of many and has helped to pave the way for future generations of female referees in Nigeria.

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Joseph Omoniyi

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