Top South African football referee instructor Sylvester Ndaba has encouraged the new generation of match officials to strive to reach even higher levels of excellence to progress along a successful career path. He spoke on the sidelines when 30 future match officials successfully completed the level 4 programme. A national basic programme for match officials was held from 2 tot 6 April at the University of Pretoria’s High-Performance Centre. The match officials learned the ropes from international female referee Akhona Makalima and retired assistant referee Enoch “The Great” Molefe.The Free State had two candidates: Kamgogelo Molutsi, a referee from Thaba Nchu, and Michael Fonoza, an assistant referee from Viljoenskroon. Both are currently officiating in the ABC Motsepe League in the province. Ndaba, or El Professor as he is affectionately known due to his vast knowledge of the laws of football, is one of the most respected retired referees to have ever been produced by the country. He has over the years been involved in multiple courses, such as the SAB League Skills Camp. “I always emphasise the three D’s and the G – dedication, diligence and determination; and guards. It is what refereeing demands in football,” said Ndaba. “Refereeing is not for the weak. “They should strive to be at their best – read the laws of the game, understand the laws of the game and apply them consistently; but they should not change the outcome of the game. “For referees to perform as decision-makers, other than assistant referees, they must have knowledge about the laws of the game. “Remember, they perform in a stadium with over 90 000 spectators and have coaches of teams constantly harassing them, but if they train properly and attend these courses, they will reach high levels,” said Ndaba.He said it was very possible for the new crop of match officials, especially women, to rise to stardom using Makalima as the living proof. Makalima is a graduate of the programme. “One of our graduates is Makalima. She started officiating in the SAB League after she had undergone a programme like this.” Last year Makalima was invited to the CAF A Referee Elite Women’s course in Rabat, Morocco, held in October. She was among the 20 female referees and 19 assistant referees who improved their skills and knowledge, while learning about emerging trends in refereeing.