Condolences are pouring in for respected former PSL match commissioner, Philemon Masemola, who passed away on Tuesday.
Several colleagues have expressed their shock at the passing of “Bra Phil”, as he was popularly known in football circles.
Safa referees’ review committee chairperson and former assistant referee Simon Didiza Ngutshane gave a detailed tribute to Masemola, including how it all began for Bra Phil in refereeing.
“Bra Phil played football and was thereafter hooked on refereeing. After he finished active refereeing, he became part of the executive of the Referees’ Association of SA, where he was part of the training unit. He was very passionate about the training and development of referees in the country. This included the professionalisation of refereeing in the country.
“He truly believed that all referees, black and white, should be afforded the same opportunities as far as training, development and advancement of their refereeing careers were concerned.
“He was one of the instructors who travelled the length and breadth of South Africa under the Toyota Development Programme, training referees and identifying potential talent. He was also part of the sting operations which rooted out corruption by appointing lesser-known referees during play-offs. It was during these operations that the likes of Jerome Damon, Lwandile Mfiki, Abdul Ebrahim, Paulo Marques, Jerry Ngwenya and many others were discovered and nurtured in their refereeing careers.
“When the PSL was formed in 1996, Bra Phil was instrumental in the creation of match inspectors [commonly known as match commissioners] in the country and became one of the first 12 in the country.
“He was also a member of the referees’ technical committee. He later became chairperson of the technical committee in 2001 and served on various sub-committees. The last sub-committee he served on before retiring was the review committee, up until 2018.
“In addition, Bra Phil was the honorary chairperson of the referees’ committee of the Mamelodi Local Football Association.”
Chairperson of the examinations board and current match commissioner Mark Lindon said: “Bra Phil was a gentleman of the highest order who was quiet and gentle. He was passionate about his refereeing and, as a mentor, he cared for those who looked up to him – he was a father figure to us all. He was knowledgeable and an honest person.
“Bra Phil was a well-respected, humble gentleman, and we were blessed to have him as part of our refereeing fraternity for so many years. Rest in peace, Bra Phil – you will be fondly remembered by all who had the honour of knowing you as a friend and colleague.”
Recently retired no-nonsense PSL referee Damon also paid homage to Masemola.
“My first interaction with Bra Phil was at the Under-17 interprovincial held at Wits in 1988. He was one of the referee coordinators and my first national assessor. His first feedback to me was professional, as endearing as a father and thought-provoking. That was his demeanour throughout my career. The circle was completed in 2013, when I was fortunate enough to have him as my assessor on the last game I officiated at in the PSL. After that game, he said: ‘Well done again, my son. What a wonderful career!’
“I can never express how deep my gratitude is to his family for sharing him with all of us,” said Damon, who is a Fifa referees’ development officer in Africa.
Current PSL referee Victor Hlungwani added: “We can no longer see you with our eyes, but we’ll feel you in our hearts forever. You mentored many referees and match commissioners in our country and you were a great servant of Safa. We’ll always remember your wise words: ‘The food you consume will work against you in the fitness test. I saw a mountain of food in the restaurant, gentlemen – be careful of what you eat!’
“You prayed for us in our workshops to remind us that God is our saviour and guidance. We’ll miss you. May your soul rest in eternal peace.”
Retired referees Mark Lindon and Stan Swart also spoke of Bra Phil fondly.