EAST LONDON – “I feel it’s a great achievement to be a ref in the PSL. I feel like I am trying to prove that women can do whatever they put their mind into,” said Akhona Makhalima, who is aiming to become the best referee in the African continent.
Makhalima had a dream of playing soccer at the highest level when she was young but when things did not go her way, the whistle-lady from a small town called Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape grabbed the opportunity when SAFA made it possible for females to become referees six years ago. Since then, she has never looked back.
Speaking to IOL Sport, the industrious referee conceded that the transition from being a soccer player to being a referee was not easy but is pleased with the progress she has made since the 2013/14 season.
“I am very much happy with the progress I have made so far. The reason I am saying so, it is because I am not where I was yesterday. That is an achievement that you need to celebrate. Even if it’s one step forward, we need to celebrate. We grow up in a country where it is a must to have a mentality that pushes you to want to achieve more. Yes, I am not entirely okay where I am at now because I want to go to the World Cup. One day I want to be the best referee in Africa, one day I want to be the best referee in the COSAFA region. So, once you get to the next stage, you set new targets. I am here now because of dedication. It was not an easy thing to change from being a soccer player to being a match official. If you don’t train well in refereeing, you suffer alone, unlike when you are in a soccer team where there are eleven players,” said Makhalima.
The FIFA accredited referee is one of the 33 match officials invited by CAF to take part in the Elite Women Referees Course scheduled to start on 25 October 2020 in Djibouti.
Makhalima is still not a regular referee in the PSL despite doing well every time she gets given a chance to blow the whistle. She is hoping for more opportunities in the 2020/21 season.
“I am looking forward to a productive and successful season. I am hoping for regular game time. But you don’t just get appointed. You earn it by working very hard. When you see referees, you must know they have earned their appointments. I don’t want anything on a silver platter just because I am a woman. I work hard for everything because I want to own my success.”