Zambian Caf instructor Katongo Kabungo has lauded the 30 referees that he took through a Young Talent Referees Development course in Bulawayo last week, and urged Zifa to keep track of the youthful match officials who he said he believed would make it into the Fifa Referees Panel in the next five to six years.
The Class Two and Three referees from eight provinces in the country were on Friday presented with certificates at a local hotel for participating in the five-day course which was sponsored by Nyaradzo Funeral Assurance Company.
Kabungo said he was impressed with the zeal and energy shown by the referees, who included six women.
The response from the referees was tremendous. This is a very sharp group that is very encouraging. Honestly, I have conducted quite a number of courses in a number of countries with top referees and this group was outstanding. My encouragement to Zifa is they should not lose touch with this group. Most of them are Class Three referees and the average age is 20. We want to develop them such that in five to six years they would be in the Fifa Panel and that is a possibility, Kabungo said.
Three referees failed a physical fitness test last Monday when the course started and did not continue with the rest.
Joseph Mususa, the Zifa Referees Committee national fitness trainer was also happy with the participants and encouraged more women to take up match officiating as womens football continues to grow in the country.
I was quite happy with the effort and zeal to learn shown by this group. Most of them are coming from areas where they dont have such courses. We hope to meet them again in May-June. Once our womens football expands we require girls to participate in such programmes. We started last Monday and three of the participants failed the physical fitness test, Mususa said.
Nyaradzo Funeral Assurance general manager Webster Chikengezha said funds permitting, the company would like to adopt the group until they become fully fledged referees.
Barring financial constraints, we want to adopt the group right to the end. They were very enthusiastic throughout the week and they have shown great potential, Chikengezha said. Zifa Referees Committee acting chairperson Ndumiso Gumede paid tribute to Nyaradzo and said some members of the group that took part in the course would be travelling to Botswana for a Caf programme at a Fifa School of Excellence established in that country.
The referees were as follows:
Blessing Mpande, Matthew Banda, Sipho Ndlovu, Munyaradzi Dzinoreva, Alexander Itayi (Bulawayo), Zibusiso Nkomo, Innocent Museka, Mncedisi Maphosa (Matabeleland South), Admire Chigaba, Prominent Simoko, Lawrence Zimondi, Lasten Lita, Mavis Muchongwe, Thanks Nyahumwe (Harare), Harmony Hungwe, Victor Kadzomba, George Huni, March Chamunoda (Mashonaland Central), Toddy Matenga, Kuzivakwamwari Jaravaza (Masvingo), Pride Kusosa, Tonderai Chikara, Tawanda Mutumba, Lloyd Mapanje (Midlands), Agrippa Simtenda, Winnie Dube (Matabeleland North), Grace Gimo, Tanaka Muchowa, Tinashe Marange, Claris Simango (Manicaland)