JOHANNESBURG - The Premier Soccer League's (PSL) only female referee, Akhona Makalima, is adamant that she won’t retire from the beautiful game before she can blow her whistle at the World Cup.
However, Makalima also understands that before she can even begin to dream of a spot at the global showpiece, she has to start calling shots regularly at Africa’s most anticipated competition, the African Women's Cup of Nations (AFWCON).
“I want to go to the World Cup,’’ Makalima said. “I am currently working on going to my second AFWCON. Truth of the matter is, I am not retiring before I go to the global showpiece, and that day is coming.’’
"However, I cannot just dream of officiating at such a tournament but first I must sure that I know all the laws of the game. Hence, I should be married to that book (Laws of the Game) and also to my training.
After making her cameo at the previous AFWCON in Cameroon, Makalima is confident her ticket to this year’s competition in Ghana is close to being booked. She says that she believes that her hard-work and knowledge of the game will reap the fruits.
The Engculu-born whistle-blower is clearly passionate about her job which is you’d mostly hear her refer to her career as some sort of "supremacy".
“To be serious, I am working towards going to this year’s event. Hence I only trust my refereeing, which is my god,’’ she said.
Last year, her career received a major boost after being invited to take part in the CAF A Referee Elite Women course in Morocco. If 'Babes wePempe', as she’s affectionately known, is not busy laying out the rules in a male-dominated sport, you will find her mentoring aspiring match officials.
“I don’t want them to be me, but they should look up to me,’’ said Makalima, who was speaking at SAB League and SAFA Match Officials training Camp at the High Performance Centre on Tuesday. “If they can do more than what I’ve done, then I can be happy.’’
After graduating from the same program that she’s currently a mentor in, renowned former referee Sylvester ‘El Professori' Ndaba lavished her praise as she continues to rise to the top.
“Makalima, has passed a super-fitness test that was meant for men at FIFA level. Hence, that makes her the only female referee to officiate in the PSL. I am very proud of that,’’ Ndaba said.
“This touches on gender-equality. And to upcoming match-officials, it proves that it’s not just lip-servicing but real-transformation.’’