FIFA Technical Instructor Felix Tangawarima is impressed with the progress local referees have made during the last three years. Tangawarima who was recently in Botswana for a five day FIFA Elite Referees course aimed at improving the performance of Premier and First Division referees revealed this to Voice Sport in an interview. “The standard has improved dramatically since 2008 when I conducted my first course here. For instance at that time more than 85% of the participants failed the physical fitness test and this time nearly all of them passed. Their performance in matches and their grasp of the theory of refereeing has also improved a lot. As FIFA we are happy at the improvement and will keep helping them improve through regular training,” said Tangawarima.
“One may wonder why I say the referees are doing well in matches when I do not live here but remember games are televised and I am able to see how they are doing wherever I am,” added the man tasked with training referees in Southern and Eastern Africa.
Quizzed on why Botswana did not have a referee at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and has no official at the 2010 World Cup Tangawarima said that was not a sign of standards not improving but that they should be taken to another level.
“Our aim is to have at least one referee at the 2014 World Cup and there is evidence we can achieve that. One of our referees Jackson Simon will be an assistant at FIFA Olympics qualifiers in Singapore in August. He is one of the three African officials there. We are trying to put Botswana referees at par with those in other countries and Simon is a sign that we are on the right track,” he said.
Referee Simon who has been assistant referee at the all Africa Games and has also run the line in African Champions League games like his instructor believes that with hard work, local referees can be counted amongst the best in the world.