Yoshimi Yamashita gestures during the AFC Cup football match between Yangon United and Naga World at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon. File / AFP
Yoshimi Yamashita said she felt "pride and responsibility" on Friday after being named one of three woman referees for Qatar, a first for the men's World Cup.
Football's governing body FIFA made history on Thursday by selecting Japan's Yamashita alongside Stephanie Frappart of France and Rwanda's Salima Mukansanga on a list of 36 referees for the World Cup.
Three women officials were also named on a list of 69 assistant referees for the first time.
The 36-year-old Yamashita had already broken new ground after becoming the first woman to take charge of an Asian Champions League match last month.
Now she will help break down another barrier when she flies to Qatar this winter, something she previously felt was "a dream I couldn't even have thought about".
"It's a great honour to be chosen to referee at the World Cup in Qatar and I have only feelings of gratitude for everyone," Yamashita told reporters in Tokyo.
Yoshimi Yamashita (R) and Naomi Teshirogi enter the pitch prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's group G first round of football match. AFP
"I will take the feeling of pride and responsibility as a Japanese heading into the tournament and I will prepare to make it a success to the best of my abilities."
Frappart is the highest-profile of the three referees, having taken charge of men's matches in the UEFA Champions League, French league and World Cup qualifiers.
Yamashita has been steadily building her reputation in Asia, also becoming the first woman to referee a match in Japan's professional J-League last year.
'Built up trust'
Yamashita will be Japan's sole refereeing representative — man or woman — at the World Cup. She said she feels a responsibility to "help Japanese football improve" while also furthering the cause of women's refereeing worldwide.
"Female referees are taking charge of lots of different men's and women's games and that has built up trust," she said.
"If it hadn't been for my colleagues building up that trust, I wouldn't be going to the World Cup. I can't destroy that trust -- it's a big responsibility but it's one I'm happy to have."
Yamashita's experience of refereeing in the J-League has so far been limited to the third division.
She said she will need to "be able to cope with the speed and the flow of games" at the World Cup but she is confident she will be physically ready.
Yoshimi Yamashita gestures during the AFC Cup football match between Yangon United and Naga World at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon. AFP
"I always aim for the top so I'll be trying to reach a higher level," said Yamashita, who works part-time as a fitness instructor. "I always train with the goal of giving a good performance and that won't change, I'll keep training the way I always do."
Yamashita has been registered as an international referee since 2015 and takes satisfaction from "helping to bring the best out of football".
"I love football myself so to be able to help bring the best out of it is a great thing," she said.
Monday's clash will mark the Emirati referees' second appearance in the World Cup following the Spain-Costa Rica match in Group E.
Bayern Munich won the Club World Cup final in Qatar on Thursday as Benjamin Pavard’s second-half winner sealed a 1-0 victory over Mexico’s Tigres, the Germans claiming a ‘six pack’ of titles within 12 months. Pavard’s close-range tap-in was
"Asia Cup could have definitely happened, it would have been a great chance for India and Pakistan to play against each other. There are many reasons behind this. I don't want to get into that," Akhtar said while speaking to Geo Cricket on YouTube.
At Al Forsan International Sports Resort, fans were treated to an entertaining day of action with the riders from the UAE, region and across the world taking part in six categories across eight classes.
In the third week 23 matches were played in four disciplines, reflecting the interest of the UAE in general and the Emirate of Sharjah in particular in promoting sports.
The 35-year-old climbed to his player's box afterwards to embrace his mother and broke down in uncontrollable tears, collapsing to the ground sobbing.