Top female referee Akhona Makalima has lauded Qatar World Cup bound Victor Gomes and Zakhele Siwela, for being the only South African match officials at the global showpiece that kicks off on Sunday.
Victor Gomes and Assistant Referee Zakhele Siwela are in Qatar as the countdown to the Sunday kick off of the biggest sporting event in the world inches closer.
Makalima, affectionately known as the SheRef in football circles, said Gomes and Siwela had worked hard to make the final cut of top officials at the World Cup.
“I really want to congratulate Victor and Zakhele for the hard work that they have put in. It’s been four years of training, preparations and analyzing game after game. That is the physical and mental discipline that one goes through for these big tournaments,” she said.
Makalima, the only female referee in the male dominated Premier Soccer League, has been listed on the FIFA International Panel since 2014, and recently officiated at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, that ended in victory for Banyana Banyana.
The trailblazing referee said the experience gained from such tournaments is immense.
“Preparations and critical analysis of matches are at the highest level. I have no doubt that Victor and Zakhele would be up to the task, but also network and share great insights on the game with the best referees in the world. It’s an honour to be in such company”, she said.
The 34-year-old match official is also on a similar path to that of Gomes and Siwela. She has been shortlisted to officiate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
“I am hard at work making sure that I keep fit physically and mentally. It is very challenging as you can imagine. I have to constantly watch what I eat. As it is, I am off to see my dietician,” said the Eastern Cape born referee.
She said the many recognitions South African referees keep getting on the international stage is testament of the quality of the country’s match officials.
“South Africa has a proud history of producing top class referees. I am happy that the standard keeps improving,” said Makalima.