In the first of its kind, two Indian football referees are set to officiate in the final phase of Chinese National Games from August 30 to September 11 at Dalian City.
FIFA Referees Maria Rebello and Santosh Kumar will be the two Indian officials who will do duty during the quadrennial event in China. Dalian City is in the North Eastern province of Liaoning and the Games will the 12th edition.
"This is the first time in Indian Refereeing when two of our match officials, one man and one woman referee, have been invited by a foreign country to officiate in their National Games Final Phase matches," Goutam Kar, All India Football Federation Head of Referees, was quoted as saying by the official AIFF website.
"This will encourage the current lot of referees to a great extent," he said.
For Maria Rebello, who will be refereeing in the women's football competition, it is a double treat. Few days back she was selected as the first woman referee to officiate in the upcoming 2013-14 I-League season.
"It was a pleasant surprise to me. I did not expect this invitation at all. This is huge. This is very motivating," Rebello said.
"I will be officiating the I-League from this season and getting such exposure before the season gets underway is priceless. It's not everyday that you get to officiate National Games of a Country," said the Goan.
Talking about the development, Rebello said, "I got a call from Chinese FA's Liu Tie Jun who was my assessor during the 2010 SAG Games in Dhaka and recently the 2012 AFC U-19 Championship in Philippines."
Santosh Kumar said Indian referees were reaping the rewards of their hard work and this call-up was the proof.
"Indian Referees are doing really well. This call-up from China to officiate in their National Games is a testimony to that only," said the referee from Kerala.
"I am very happy with the development. It will be a learning experience for me. I am so looking forward to it."