Tobias Mandoreba Hwange Correspondent
HWANGE High School Form Four pupil Lucky Nehwati has broken new ground by becoming a Class Four female referee in the Zifa Matabeleland North Division Two league.Nehwati turned 20 in June this year.
The slim Nehwati, who is also into athletics at the school as a long distance runner, has shown no signs of stage fright as she energetically runs up and down the touchline in this lively league.
Chronicle Sport caught up with the referee at Old Stadium after a training session ahead of the call of duty in this weekend’s league matches to find out how she ended up being a referee while still at school.
“We had just finished training under the supervision of my mentor Teurai Chinguwa in October last year when some members of the local Zifa referees’ committee came to the Colliery Stadium to advise us that they were looking for young athletes who were willing to take up refereeing courses.
“I developed interest from there and we sat for the beginners’ examinations in November before the two fitness and theory courses held this year which I passed. To be honest I had no real interest in soccer but I got a lot of encouragement from some local seasoned referees,” said the shy and soft-spoken Nehwati.
Nehwati’s first match was on the touchline in a league match between log leaders Makomo and Fire FC on April 18 this year with another assignment being an encounter pitting Brazil and Blackrock three days later.
“I am not finding it difficult to balance between my school work and the refereeing career at all. My vision is to work very hard and quickly progress to the higher level of Division One and Premier League as a centre official. I will do everything possible to become a renowned referee one day and take charge of soccer matches even beyond our borders when I gain maturity in this career,” she added.
The Zifa Matabeleland North referees’ association treasurer and co-ordinator Gracious Hussein is highly optimistic Nehwati would have a long and illustrious career.
“I have faith in this young girl who has shown lots of promise so far. We no longer hesitate to encourage the girl child to be soccer referees after what we have seen from Lucky. During the courses held this year we stressed to her and other participants that matchfixing has no place in football and for them to always ensure fair play prevails. Her future looks very bright indeed,” said Hussein.
Other female referees who were already officiating in the league are Victoria Falls-based Marilyn Ndazi and Zibusiso Ncube while Edith Masina and Bokani Shoko are from the coal mining town.