Referees on the receiving end

2018-04-26 06:00
Luthando Fatyela, Siyanda Hola, Siya Mojela and Sinovuyo Masoka with the different kits they wear when officiating a soccer game. PHOTO: VELANI LUDIDI

Luthando Fatyela, Siyanda Hola, Siya Mojela and Sinovuyo Masoka with the different kits they wear when officiating a soccer game. PHOTO: VELANI LUDIDI

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Week in, week out they make sure that the rules of the beautiful game are followed and that the game is fair.

But local football referees are struggling as they have to dig into their own pockets to buy kit to wear when officiating games to stick to Safa standards.

“We love helping out and officiating. But we need assistance with the kit because we want to look presentable and respect the rules,” says Siyanda Hola, one of the referees who officiates matches in the Helderberg Local Football Association (LFA).

Teams try to assist by giving the officials money after each game, but they say they use the money to put food on the table – a necessity for their families.

The area has produced referees who went on to officiate in higher leagues such as Safa’s ABC Motsepe League.

Luthando Fatyela says the lack of sponsorship prevent others interested in joining the officiating ranks. “There are many young people we want to train to be officials, but they are not inspired because we wear torn clothes. If businesses or the community can assist us with funds, we would be able to carry out our duty with pride,” he reckons.

The officiating department is one of the most ignored fields when it comes to funding. Soccer fan Luyolo Njabathwa says officials play a crucial role in the game of soccer.

“Without them there is no beautiful game. They are always forgotten when teams get sponsored kits and that needs to change,” Njabathawa says.

“We should appreciate these guys and invest in them, because they even have to pay their way at attend referees courses. The same people assist us by officiating matches.”

The referees hope someone will sponsor them with a kit, with Hola insisting that “people with kind hearts still exist”.

“I know there are people who are willing to help and, after we go public with our challenges, we will receive something from the people. We are also calling for people who want to learn to officiate to come to us so that we can train them,” says Hola.

Mzukisi Madondile, Helderberg LFA chairperson, says they are working to resolve the matter. “At the moment the LFA is working on raising funds to assist. At present, the LFA is run out of teams’ pockets. Even to pay the officials, teams must contribute R100 weekly,” he explained.

“We are, however, trying to find a mechanism to resolve that. For example, municipality grant applications are declined when it relates to kits, but they glady pay for equipment.”

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