Nam officials at Cosafa

By Michael Uugwanga

FOUR local female officials that officiated at the 2020 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Women’s Championships have all expressed satisfaction at taking charge of the final that was contested between South Africa’s Banyana Banyana and Botswana’s Zebras.

Banyana Banyana beat the Zebras 2-1 in the final of which Astino Twanyanyukwa was the referee, Vistoria Shangula the fourth official and Helvi Eliakim, general manager of the final. Referee Paulina Joel was also part of officials at the continental showcase.

Twanyanyukwa was surprisingly selected to officiate the final after handling only two matches in the women’s Cosafa U-17 category that were held before the finale of the senior competition.

“I was so happy and excited to have officiated the final. I did officiate two games at the U-17 level as a referee and two matches as a fourth official before I was appointed to take charge of the final at senior level.  Although it was my second time to be invited to the Cosafa tournament, this was a great experience comparing to last year’s event as I have gained more knowledge. I do have a fitness certificate in high intensity and Yo-Yo test,” said the 28 year-old.

The Yo-Yo test is an aerobic endurance fitness test, involving running between markers placed 20 metres apart, at increasing speed, until exhaustion.

Shangula, the most qualified female referee in the country managed to officiate three matches at the event; South Africa versus Zambia, Malawi versus Zambia and the match between Malawi and South Africa.

Shangula has a Confederation of African Football (CAF) Elite A qualification and will now be expected to officiate some matches of the Cosafa Men’s Under-17 Championship that starts in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa on Thursday.

“It was pressure to be part and parcel of the women championship as I have really learnt a lot. I officiated three games as I have indicated already and I can say that we came here to challenge ourselves that we make our country proud even during this Covid-19. My focus now is to officiate the boys U-17,” she said.

Joel, a former player for the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) Cheetahs said she cherished her Cosafa experience.

“It was a very good experience to officiate at the tournament since it was my first time and I really learnt a lot from my senior colleagues and from my instructors.”

Former Brave Gladiator captain Eliakim said that the Cosafa experience will help her develop into a top administrator.

“(Sue) Destombes and (Suzgo) Nyirenda are both rated as two of the best football administrators on the continent and with their guidance and leadership and my ability and leadership to learn I was promoted from assistant general coordinator of the U-17s championship to general coordinator of the Cosafa senior women championship within a space of a week.

“I even received praises from all Cosafa affiliates for my work ethic.  In all my years of football, this is the highest position I have held thus far. I also received guidance from Jacqueline Shipanga (acting technical director of the Namibia Football Association).”

Eliakim is still in South Africa as a general coordinator and is joined by Shipanga who is the technical study expert for Cosafa.