Cape Town - SA's top female referee, Akhona Makalima, has been invited by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to an elite referee training course for women to be held in Morocco at the end of the month.
She hopes the invitation will open doors for her to officiate at the 21st FIFA World Cup in Russia next June. The 29-year old was selected alongside 38 other referees from different African nations.
Makalima is the only woman to officiate in the Absa Premiership, a world dominated by the men. But she isn't easily intimidated.
"I want people to realise this job is not about gender but the book. We study the same book and apply the same rules," she recently told DRUM.
And it seems the hard work has paid off.
"I'm so excited by this invite. If I do well on this course I could be selected to officiate at next year's Afcon (African Cup of Nations) and the World Cup. I'll continue with my hard work which I hope will take me to the biggest stage (the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia)," the Ngqamakhwe-born ref says.
She officially began referring at the 2011/2012 SAB league. Later that year she completed more refereeing courses and was promoted to officiate the former Vodacom League for the 2012/13 season.
Her first PSL match was in February 2015, when the University of Pretoria (Tuks) played Mpumalanga Black Aces at Tuks stadium and she recently officiated a league match between SuperSport United and Polokwane City.
The South African Football Association confirmed that their efforts to empower female referees received a massive boost with Makalima's invitation to the Caf course.
"The invite augurs well with the organisation's Vision 2022 that is not just about producing quality and talented players, but referees and coaches as well. Makalima will get a chance to share ideas with other top female referees from around the continent, while representing the best of local referees," the statement reads.
The course is also aimed at inspiring and increasing the number of female referees and coaches on the continent.