One hundred years after it was originally formed as the American Professional Football Association back in 1920, the NFL has finally broken major ground by having the first Black woman ever in the league’s history to officiate an NFL game.
CNN’s Homero De la Fuente reported that Maia Chaka made history when she took the field on Sept. 12, breaking barriers for Black women all around the nation.
In a video Chaka made and promoted by the NFL ahead of her historic moment, the health and physical education teacher said, “[It] is an honor and it’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America.”
Maia Chaka is making history today.
She will be the first black woman to officiate an NFL game. 👏👏👏
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
According to De la Fuente, “Chaka is the third on-field female official in the NFL, joining Sarah Thomas, the first permanent female game official, and Shannon Eastin, who was the first woman to officiate an NFL game.”
Before joining the NFL as an official, Chaka spent time as a referee in the NCAA’s Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA. She enrolled in the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014, which is designed to spot individuals with the talent to succeed as game officials, and was officially added to the NFL’s roster of game officials earlier this year.
Chaka said she recognizes the importance her presence and involvement brings to the sport, hoping it will encourage other women to attempt to break similar barriers and succeed in places they haven’t always been welcome in the past.
“Hopefully, that just gives somebody else some inspiration and empowers them to step outside the box and do something different,” Chaka said.