In the monthly OUTsurance feature in Soccer Laduma newspaper where we get the opportunity to get introduced to South Africa’s top referees, this past month saw Akhona Makalima taking us through how she, as a female official, handles her job on the field.
The Eastern Cape-born ref further went on to talk about her reason for choosing the profession, although it was not her first choice.
“It wasn’t my first choice (laughs), it was my plan B. I come from the Eastern Cape and there isn’t a lot of development when it comes to women’s football. When I realised that my dream of having to play for Banyana Banyana wasn’t going to happen and SAFA presented an opportunity where they were looking for women who wanted to become referees. I decided to take up the opportunity and here I am!”
Makalima has not had it easy out there being amongst the men and has had some harsh words thrown at her.
“I remember there was a coach that said, “Ja, you belong in the kitchen.” I didn’t take that in a bad way because I’m a woman and a kitchen is one of the places where I have to be, so I took it as a joke, but not everyone will see it in that way. These things don’t weigh me down at all.”
In South Africa there have not been many females who have taken up the role as officials, so from the few, who did she draw inspiration from?
“There was one African referee, Yonela Mahamba – she’s the one who inspired me. When I was going up the ranks, I got to know Deidra (Mitchell) and she has been a good inspiration in terms of telling us about her journey. She also coaches us as our match commissioner and instructor.”
Let’s get the conversation started. What do you have to say about the criticism that females still have to endure in the beautiful game? Let us know in the comments section below.