Matreki Mabizela

Soccer referee instructor and assessor

Developing soccer referees is what motivates Matreki Mabizela to wake up every morning. She’s so passionate that she travels 52km every week on public transport to offer support to 35 match officials in the Maluti-a-Phofung region in the Free State.

As a teenager, Mabizela loved playing soccer, establishing her own soccer team Mighty Queens FC at the age of 14. She later became curious about refereeing and decided to become a referee. “Refereeing is constantly evolving and it is not as easy it may seem. I love the fact that it instills discipline and a good character as well as integrity in a person.” These days, Mabizela is an assessor and referees instructor in Maluti-a-Phofung, which is made up of the towns of Kestell, QwaQwa, Harrismith and their surrounding rural areas. Her role as an assessor requires her to analyse and report on the performance of match officials in match situations. As a referees instructor she conducts workshops, lectures and weekly classes in which she trains and develops referees to ensure that they understand the laws of the game. She uses her own resources for the latter, borrowing a projector when she needs one. Not that she’s complaining. For her, it’s all part of a journey she felt compelled to embark on: “I want to be a FIFA referees instructor but most importantly I want to introduce more women into refereeing and change the perception that people have about refereeing,” she says.

“One of my biggest achievements would be to be one of the driving forces behind turning or transforming refereeing from what it is now into a respectable profession.” For Mabizela there is the added challenge of being a woman in a male-dominated arena. She admits that in the past, her male counterparts belittled her, and made her feel like an intruder. However, she used this to her advantage: “The treatment I received earlier in life has taught me to work harder than any other person in the field to constantly develop my knowledge and understanding of football, especially the laws of the game. I research and find mechanisms that will allow me to get the best results out of any situation.”

— Fatima Asmal