Pavaza quits refereeing over heart concerns

By Michael Uugwanga

RENOWNED referee Jackson Pavaza has quit refereeing due to health concerns, but he has taken up an exciting new role as referee instructor after completing the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Instructor course in Kigali, Rwanda in August.

Pavaza has officiated at numerous African club competitions, such as the African Champions League, African Confederations Cup and also officiated at international level, including Africa Cup of Nations and Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) matches.

Pavaza is currently in Zambia as a tournament referee instructor and assessor at the 2019 COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship that is taking place in Lusaka, Zambia.

“This year I was called up for the AFCON tournament that was held in June. Before the tournament we (referees) went for a course in Rabat Morocco, where we went for training ahead of the AFCON. So we did our medical check-up there and they discovered that I have a problem with my heart.

“After discovering it they then sent me back home for a further check, then I came to do a further check-up with my doctor and detected that one of my heart [valves] is totally blocked. Then after that FIFA advised me to quit for my own benefit.

“Good thing FIFA and CAF decided to train me as an instructor. Currently I am in Zambia as an instructor and referee assessor. So, that is the way forward now for me,” he said.

Pavaza might have been regarded as one of Africa’s finest referees, but his dream of officiating at major tournaments such as World Cups or at Olympic Games have been shattered as a result of the diagnosis.His work as a middle man on the pitch of play earned him the MTC Namibia Sport Awards Referee of the Year prize in 2017. He said despite no longer being the middle man, he still has a passion for refereeing, although admitting that his ambitions as a referee have come to a premature close.

“I have a passion of refereeing as I really wanted to achieve my dream which was to officiate at the World Cup, and to be honest I was really heading into that direction because I was doing very well. So, but then I could not fulfil my dreams as God has other plans for me and that is to put me in another career again. And that means dealing with referees, grooming and developing referees, which are now my duties. So far, so good,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pavaza has not given up hope of refereeing again if he manages to overcome the heart problem  in the near future and has no regrets about his work as a referee.

He strongly advised upcoming referees not to be tempted by bribes, a serious offense that has rocked football in many parts of the world, including his own career, after it was reported that he was offered a bribe recently – which he declined to take.

It was reported last year that Pavaza was offered a bribe by the owners of Ghanaian outfit Aduana Stars during a CAF Confederations Cup match between Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and Ghanaian team, Aduana Stars, in May 2018, but he reportedly rejected the offer.

“Maybe by God’s grace I believe I might be able to come back. Like seriously, my heart is in refereeing. I love refereeing and I enjoy it as it is a good career. I come across lots of people and you learn a lot. As a referee you should never become a money referee. Be yourself and love whatever you are doing. If you do refereeing with lots of love you will build your integrity like the way I did with mine,” he said.