Monday, May 17, 2021

Are Botswana referees up to scratch?

There is never a time when the Premier League season ends without fingers being pointed at the referees for either being incompetent or officiating subjectively.

Some teams’ officials and supporters even go to the extent of losing their cool and bay for the referee’s blood.

The 2010/11 Premier League season has only been played for two weeks and already referees have come under the spotlight. The first major incident was during the first match that involved Township Rollers and greenhorns, Black Peril.

The following weekend, it was in Francistown between Notwane and Ecco City Green.
Notwane felt betrayed and wanted to manhandle the referee. There is still a long way to go before the season ends, the question is how many more incidents are going to happen in which referees’ lives are at risk.

One surprising thing is that world football controlling body, FIFA, is always conducting referees’ refresher courses to keep with the changing times. With the courses always coming up, the question might be where it is really going wrong.

Local referees have also never officiated at Africa’s major soccer showpiece, Africa Cup of Nations. They normally go only as far as junior African tournaments.

The former chairperson of the Referee’s Commission, Harris Lebotse, told Sunday Standard that the standard of refereeing in Botswana has grown a bit but still is not the way it is supposed to be.
“This is the time when our referees should be continually officiating at major tournaments around Africa, even the world. But it is not the case; we see some smaller countries producing many referees of international pedigree. This then means that something is wrong with our refereeing system,” he said.

Lebotse added that the first thing that should get the ball rolling is the incentives, something he said would attract many people and hence more competition. He said what is currently offered to the referees is too little. Lebotse also added that refereeing is a learning process and if many professionals with good educational background do not come in their numbers the existing crop will always have their limitations.

“In other countries most referees come from different professionals like medicine, engineering and others. In our country it is the opposite and we will not grow the way other countries do. To start with, a professional in the field of play would not easily be intimidated by so called big names because he already has his own confidence. But if one is just refereeing for the love of it and without learning to the high standard, there will always be problems.” he said.

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