Young ref­eree dreams big

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

ONE of Le­sotho’s youngest foot­ball ref­er­ees, Souru Phatšoane (27), is living his dream as he of­fi­ci­ates his third Coun­cil of South­ern African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Cosafa) tour­na­ment, which ends on Satur­day in Rusten­burg, South Africa.

Phatšoane, who was born and grew up in Tšenola, em­barked on his ref­er­ee­ing ca­reer in 2009 and not by de­sign but by sheer ac­ci­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to Phatšoane, he had only gone to watch the game when he was asked to be one of the two as­sis­tant ref­er­ees, which he gladly ac­cepted. And three years down the line, Phatšoane was not only han­dling pre­mier league matches but also in­ter­na­tional fix­tures.

“I had gone to watch a high school foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion as I was coach­ing young kids from my vil­lage and was then asked to be one of the as­sis­tant ref­er­ees. From that day, in 2009, my pas­sion for ref­er­ee­ing grew from strength to strength and as the say­ing goes, the rest is but his­tory,” Phatšoane.

Phatšoane, who is the youngest ref­eree at the Cosafa tour­na­ment and was an as­sis­tant dur­ing the open­ing match of the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Namibia and Sey­chelles on 17 May, is ex­pected to be one of the of­fi­cials han­dling Satur­day’s fi­nal at Moru­leng Sta­dium.

Ac­cord­ing to Phatšoane, af­ter his freak de­but in 2009, he then en­rolled for a Ba­sic Ref­er­ee­ing Course the same year, and has been on “nu­mer­ous cour­ses” both at home and abroad since.

“I must say, I’m a bit sur­prised with the way I have grown in this pro­fes­sion. This is my third Cosafa tour­na­ment but my first for se­nior teams. I of­fi­ci­ated at the 2012 and 2013 edi­tions of the Cosafa un­der-20 com­pe­ti­tions in Botswana and Le­sotho, re­spec­tively, so this is the third time I am at the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion.”

In ad­di­tion to the re­gional tour­na­ments, Phatšoane also of­fi­ci­ated at the 2015 African un­der-17 Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship held in Niger in Fe­bru­ary this year, as well as African Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup matches .

“It’s been a priv­i­lege for me to of­fi­ci­ate at all th­ese com­pe­ti­tions but credit goes to se­nior ref­er­ees at the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and those who have since re­tired, for lend­ing me a help­ing hand and pre­pare me for the fu­ture,” said Phatšoane.

“I know I still have a long way to go and I’m con­fi­dent that I will one of the of­fi­cials for the fi­nal on Satur­day since I was part of the open­ing tie.

“My main dream is to of­fi­ci­ate at the Africa Cup of Na­tions and World Cup, then I will know that my job is done,” he said.

For a ref­eree of his age, Phatšoane ad­mit­ted that he has had goose bumps be­fore the start of matches es­pe­cially where the stakes are very high.

“It is nat­u­ral to be a bit scared when you are in charge of a big match, but that goes away as the game pro­gresses,” Phatšoane said.

“Th­ese are some of the chal­lenges you face in this pro­fes­sion, but they also make you grow and be­come a bet­ter ref­eree.”

Le­sotho’s youngest foot­ball ref­eree souru Phatšoane.

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