FEATURE: Meet the young beautiful referee calling the shots in rugby
Noreen Liyosi is a common face at the Kenya Rugby union, where she is one of the three acting female referees in Kenya.
Her beauty and elegance is usually met with blank stares at her workplace moreso by rugby players, a majority of whom are male and cannot fathom how a gorgeous young woman with a high flying teaching profession would opt to officiate in a male-dominated rugby game.
But she’s unfazed. In fact, she is so much at home and loving every bit of it.
When Citizen Digital caught up with the 23-year-old, an Alma Mater of Chwele Girls High school, she’s dressed in her element; official referees’ attire; donning a vertical black and white stripes.
CD: You have grown to be a prominent player and rugby referee in Kenya. Kindly take us to the genesis of your career.
NL: I joined the Top Fry Nakuru ladies team soon after I cleared secondary education at the Chwele Girls High school and since then I have never looked back. However, in 2013, I broke my leg which made me switch to refereeing.
CD: When and why did you choose rugby as opposed to other sports?
NL: Back in high school, I used to compete in different sporting activities especially the short distance races, but after I cleared my studies in 2009, the urge and passion to join a rugby team was overwhelming. I couldn’t resist.
CD: What was your debut experience for the Top Fry Nakuru ladies team?
NL: Fresh from high school and I had no idea how to pass or side step, but it proved useful since I got to grasp a few positives from that particular game.
CD: What was your source of motivation?
NL: I am a self-driven and a tough lady who loves to explore different challenges that come forth, and I think that’s my main source of motivation. Again Irene Mwangi has been an inspiration in my life since the time I joined the Top Fry Nakuru ladies team.
CD: Rugby is a high contact sport, you are athletic and conditioned now, but back then you were not. Were you at one time fearful of the contact related to the game?
NL: Yes, at first, I was doubtful of my decision to join the game and my close friends and family were not supportive of the idea. After breaking my leg, things got worse but I did not quit. I have adjusted to the game and the rules and I can now say it’s a safe game.
CD: Being a male-dominated sport, sometimes emotions can check in or you get the big boys teasing you around. How do you deal with all these?
NL: (Chuckles).Yes, it’s somehow overwhelming, but rugby being a game played by ‘real gentlemen’, I get all the respect I deserve on and off the pitch, of course, it’s tough to control their emotions but as the centre referee you get to call the shots and maintain order on the pitch and with that you earn your respect.
CD: Many are quoted saying rugby is a lifestyle. Has this made you adjust your lifestyle?
NL: (Laughs).Yes, since you have to exercise often and get to take care of your body to avoid sickness and injuries. But above all, my mental strength has grown to a whole new level.
CD: The Kenya Cup is on recess for the festive season. Which teams do you tip to win come next year?
NL: (Smiles).Of course Top Fry Nakuru.
CD: Going forward, what should we expect from you?
NL: I am looking forward to taking up a coaching role in the near future, and to get to see rugby grow in Kenya and also nurture rugby talents.That’s my dream.
CD: Your parting shot?
To the ladies out there, come out of your comfort zone and join us since we are few and we need that competition to improve, but above all, put God first.