South African match official, Akhona Makalima, has opened up about her experience at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Eastern Cape-born was part of 10 CAF match officials selected to officiate at the World Cup held in New Zealand and Australia.
“Heading to the World Cup was really an emotional day,” Makalima said in an interview with CAFOnline.
“I was filled so much gratitude to say, finally my hard work is paying off and I’ve been selected for the highest competition of women football in in the world, so I was really filled with gratitude. It was a happy day for myself and for my family and for the country.
“I didn’t really have so much pressure, but I was looking forward to meeting up and learning from other match officials and also getting experience and being taught by one of the best instructors in in the world.
“I also told myself that I need to take it each day at a time, one session at a time so that I don’t feel overworked.
“I didn’t feel overwhelmed or that there was too much workload. I took the advice that I was given at the previous training session and how do I incorporate that into my next session so I would take each day at a time but obviously it’s the World Cup and you don’t want make mistakes. You want to be the best at it.”
With the World Cup over and the new DStv Premiership season under way, Makalima is back in the country. The 35-year-old explained what needs to be done to help grow and unearth more female referees on the continent.
“I think more than anything, more regular game time, more trust in female match officials and obviously us taking up space and not shrinking ourselves.
“If you want to perform at the highest level, you need to be at your highest performance standard. The opportunities are there for us, the harder we work, the more doors we open for younger match officials.
“The development structures that are put out there by CAF on the continent are the same as those put out there for our male counterparts, so it’s a matter of making sure that when we are transitioning we go at the same pace and not afraid when given the opportunity.”