The first Motswana umpire to officiate at the World Softball Championships, Alex Mataboge, has indicated that the standard of rules in Botswana softball games are still below international level, a situation which he said calls for change.
After attending the Championships in the United States of America late last year, the softball umpire said he has realised that local umpires are not professional and still compromise internationally recognised rules of the sport.
“Referees should stop compromising softball rules, and start to apply the internationally recognised rules,” he said.
Mataboge indicated that in Botswana refereeing is taken for granted, though it is one of the areas expected to make local teams aware of the rules of the game.
“The way we do things in this country is different. We don’t have full time and professional umpires,” he said.
The umpire warned that the current situation can groom players who are not aware of universally accepted rules of the game, a condition which can negatively affect the progression of local teams to international competitions. However, he pointed out that officiating at the World Championships will allow him to benchmark and bring home universally accepted standards of rules in soft ball games.
Mataboge said he is already using the current Shell Oil softball league games to mentor local umpires on the expected standards. He noted that the local umpires are responding positively to the mentorship program.
He said the only challenge is that the local amateur umpires are hasty to get the benefits before they master the job.
Currently, Mataboge is the only umpire who has an opportunity to attend and officiate at international softball games, after being elected to join the International Softball Federation of Umpires. He clinched the highest qualifications for umpires, after passing his examinations in the US last year. The ex-softball player was instantly assigned to officiate at the world softball championship. The way he officiated at the first games enticed the Federation of Umpires to choose him to handle the bronze and final games. “It was an achievement from nowhere,” said Mataboge.
The Botswana Softball Association president, Marumo Morule, said Mataboge will be the eye of this country on issues regarding change of rules and laws of the sport.
“Having an umpire of his standard is something that BSA has been waiting for,” said Morule.