Masfia Afrin hardly has a moment to spare at the Sheikh Jamal National Tennis Complex in Ramna. The venue is hosting the junior World Tennis Series starting from Monday. Masfia is busy making a list of the number of players and scheduling when the draw will take place and which player will play against whom.
She has already made history through participating in this international tournament. Masfia is now the first Bangladeshi female referee to host an international tennis competition.
To successfully stage any tennis tournament, the referee plays a crucial role along with the umpire, chair umpire and the community official. A referee needs to know about all the rules of the game. The referee also has to oversee everything, starting from the draw to the schedule. She or he is also responsible to make sure the tournament is running smoothly and in a fair manner.
Masfia has taken part in multiple national competitions and international age-level tournaments since 2010. On top of that experience, she also did a level-one course on refereeing last year.
In January, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Under-14 Development Championship took place in Dhaka. Masfia worked as the assistant referee in that competition. This time around, she got handed the refereeing responsibility, for which she is over the moon.
Masfia is working side by side Germany’s Thomas Schulze, the tournament director, and fulfilling her responsibilities as the referee.
Before Masfia, Sarwar Mostafa and Ahmed Ziaur Rahman are the only male Bangladeshis who have worked as a referee in an international tennis competition. Now, Masfia has started her journey at the international stage.
In her 10-year career as a player, Masfia was the national champion at the U-10, U-12, U-14 and U-16 level. She was second in the national female tennis players rankings. She was the first Bangladeshi woman tennis player to receive the ITF Development Scholarship and compete in Uzbekistan.
I read the tennis rulebooks available at the ITF website and other such information. I’ve also done an online course on tennis refereeing. I also learnt a lot from the level-one officiating exam I took last year. After my academic studies, I start studying those tennis rulebooks.Masfia Afrin, the first female Bangladeshi to referee an international tennis tournament
Masfia also participated at the junior’s tournament of the Billy Jean King Cup in Malaysia. She also took part in the ITF U-12 regional tournament in Nepal and also in the U-14 championship in Vietnam, Thailand and India. In Sri Lanka, she played in the world junior tennis tournament.
But Masfia had to put an end to her playing career due to a shoulder injury and is now dreaming of building a career as a referee, “The shoulder injury has troubled me a lot. I still haven’t fully recovered. It’s impossible for me to continue playing in such condition. That’s why I got interested in working as an official. I’m the first Bangladeshi girl to be a referee in an international tournament, this thought gives me immense pride. I dream that one day I would become a referee with a white badge. Then, I would be eligible to work in a grand slam.”
Recently, trainers from ITF had come to Bangladesh, under them 22 boys and girls took part in a level-one refereeing course. Masfia emerged first in that course. That’s why we made her the referee.Abu Sayeed Mohammad Haider, general secretary, Bangladesh Tennis Federation
Masfia, who is a higher secondary student of Dhaka’s Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, reads the tennis rulebook whenever she gets free time from her studies.
“I read the tennis rulebooks available at the ITF website and other such information. I’ve also done an online course on tennis refereeing. I also learnt a lot from the level-one officiating exam I took last year. After my academic studies, I start studying those tennis rulebooks.”
Bangladesh Tennis Federation’s general secretary Abu Sayeed Mohammad Haider is proud after handing a Bangladeshi girl the responsibility to work as a referee in an international competition for the very first time.
“Majority of ITF officials encourage women empowerment in official activities. Recently, trainers from ITF had come to Bangladesh, under them 22 boys and girls took part in a level-one refereeing course. Masfia emerged first in that course. That’s why we made her the referee. Next, we will send her to Indonesia for the white badge exam. If she clears that exam, we would no longer need to bring referees from overseas to conduct international tournaments. A Bangladeshi girl running an international tournament is definitely a matter of pride for us. This is a success of our federation.”