RENOWNED former referee Felix Tangawarima, who is now a top Fifa referees’ (technical) instructor, says he is impressed by the improved standards of match officiating in the country and is hopeful that the gradual progress continues.
BY HENRY MHARA
Tangawarima, the most successful referee in local football history, is in the country together with another Fifa instructor (physical and fitness), Mark Muzengo from Malawi, for a one-week Member Association Fifa Elite Referees course, being attended by 35 of the 70 Premier Soccer League match officials.
The course started yesterday in the capital, with a physical assessment session in the morning, that was then followed by the official opening in the afternoon.
Speaking at the event, the seven-time Zimbabwe referee of the year Tangawarima, said: “We are here to capacity build the referees. There have been some amendments and changes in the laws of the game and it is very important that the referees know. This course has actually come at the right time and we will try by all means to go through all the changes.
We wants the referees to embrace the new philosophies which Fifa want them to go through.
“Sometimes referees have some challenges when officiating simply because we teach them the laws of the game here, but they will go out to officiate to people who don’t have the appreciation of the new changes. So sometimes the referees are labelled to be bad when they are actually not, as they will be just implementing the laws of the games. We would do our level best to leave them at another level from where they are at the present moment.”
Local referees have been criticised before for their lack of professionalism, to the extent that Zifa previously hired South Africa match officials to handle a local cup final.
Tangawarima believes that has changed.
“Internationally, your [Zifa] referees are doing very well. It is shown by the number of referees who are going out for international matches. In most cases the games they are appointed to, they are very important games. This weekend there were four local referees who went to Zambia and officiated the final Chan qualifying game between Zambia and South Africa.
“When you see your referees being appointed to such games, it shows the capabilities of these referees. We would like to emphasise if they can only continue with the good work they are doing, both the male and the female referees. They have represented the country very well so we are very proud.”
Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, who was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony, said his association will continue to invest in local referees through such courses.
“As an association, we prioritise referees’ education because they are the custodians of the laws of the game on the field of play. In that regard, referees have to be perfectly clear of what they are doing all the time to avoid inconsistent application of rules. The only way we can ensure that the standards are consistent with global rules is through continued education so that they have all the necessary information when they take charge of games,” he said.