An untold story: The journey of a Female Soccer Referee
On 28 May 2016, I embarked on a journey that literally changed ‘the game’ for me.
On this day, I was thrust completely outside of my comfort zone: I officiated as Referee for the very first time at a ‘6 a side’-soccer tournament hosted by Diski Nine 9 for Lafarge.
How the opportunity arose was through a sheer twist of fate: Diski Nine9 needed female referees to assist them in changing the status quo in terms of the representation of women in soccer.
Not really taking in the gravity of this cause and where it would lead me, I accepted. When the day came, I was overcome with a great sense of panic as it dawned on me that I , Phindile Molefe, was going to officiate a soccer match. Never had I been so intimidated in my life before.
I don’t think I quite realised what I had just accepted but the ‘penny dropped’ when I found myself in the great Orlando Stadium. The stadium that served as a training ground for the best soccer players from all over the world during the FIFA World Cup and the stadium that has developed and unearthed the talent of many South African soccer legends.
Here I was in this grand stadium trying to swap places with other volunteers who were assigned other tasks on the day. When I realized that my attempts were futile, I asked South Africa’s youngest PSL Referee, Fezile Hlophe, to teach me the laws of the game and this was my first lesson of all 17 laws of the game.
Looking back, I almost let doubt and fear hold me back. I was not certain that I’ll be any good but I tried anyway and from this lesson, I have come to realise that you have to take that leap of faith and go ‘all in’.
My journey as a soccer referee in training has demonstrated to me that there is a world of possibilities out there, if you are but only willing to open yourself to them. Diski Nine9 believed in my potential so much that I suddenly believed that I could do it too. I could not disappoint them or that one young girl who may be watching and who, through my attempt at refereeing, would believe that she could do it too.
The Universe has a weird way of revealing purpose to you but if you are open to receive and accept all the experiences that it throws at you, it always seems to conspire in your favour.
My journey and participation as a referee stands as an assertion of the change that I expect to see in sport, in the corporate world and in general society: the right to equal opportunities for women and girls. By increasing the visibility of women in sport, in court rooms and in board rooms, we can promulgate a movement that encourages people to play their part at every level by making sport accessible and ‘normal’ for women and girls. To see it, we must take the chance and live the goal!!