SA woman refs make great strides

2018-08-12 05:58
Errol Sweeney (Supplied)

Johannesburg - Heretofore, and understandably, I guess, my columns have always been about male referees and assistant referees.

Most, if not all of the controversies, surround the male-dominated sport and so there would appear to be more action in that particular category. Some of that action has been most distasteful at times and not a
good advertisement for the “beautiful game”.

The women, however, behave much better than the gents and rarely do you see the ugly scenes at women’s soccer matches that are witnessed in the men’s game.

This week I’m delighted to shine a light on the female side of the “coin” and particularly on one woman who is making great strides in soccer refereeing.

Akhona Makalima, who was born in Engculu village in Ngqamakhwe, Eastern Cape, had to prove herself in the male-dominated field. She has just been invited to the US to take part in a programme that empowers women in sports.

Part of the letter she received reads: “Dear Ms Akhona Makalima, on behalf of the US department of state and espnW, we would like to congratulate you on being selected to the 2018 US Department of Global Sports Mentoring Programme [GSMP]: Empowering Women Through Sport!”

It goes on to say: “The US department of state’s sports diplomacy office and University of Tennessee team welcome you to the GSMP family - we are all so happy for you and so incredibly proud of you. You are now one of the newest delegates added to the 147 women and men who have come before you.”

The letter, coming as it does when August is Women’s Month in South Africa, is a tremendous honour for this young woman and, for all intents and purposes, is just reward for the amount of work she has put into promoting herself, her sport and her country.

To further highlight the dedication Makalima has shown, she will continue to referee in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) during the 2018/19 season.

To be selected for the PSL panel, she ran and passed the FIFA CAT 1 fitness test (the test run for all international men and national league men).

She cut her teeth in the SAB Regional League and ABC Motsepe League before advancing to PSL and Banyana Banyana matches.

FIFA no longer calls it “men’s fitness” for that reason, allowing women to participate in men’s leagues.

To achieve this great honour, she had to compete with her male counterparts and is currently on the CAF Elite A women’s panel.

Reports show that she is making a serious advance to the Africa Women Cup of Nations later in
the year.

Like any official in whatever sport (men and women), the ultimate “prize” is to be selected for the World Cup; her dream is to participate in the women’s version in 2023.

She will not, unfortunately, be in France next year.

She understands and appreciates that, because she is a woman, she will have to work even harder to prove herself in the male-dominated game, but that does not faze her one bit.

The 28-year-old says some people do not have faith in her, but she is determined to overcome all challenges to reach her goal of getting to the World Cup finals.

I can only say that, with such determination, dedication and commitment, that dream will surely come true.

Happy whistling!

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol

Read more on:    errol sweeney  |  soccer


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