The u20 World Cup in New Zealand was a great experience for Zakhele Thusi Siwela. “It’s always a pleasure to meet referees from other parts of the world , we make new friendships and learn a lot in terms of how they control matches and learn from their style and approach of refereeing .
Congratulations with your appointment for the u20 2015 World Cup. How did you experience the tournament?
The atmosphere was great even although New Zealand is not a big football country. But the country did everything in their power to make people who visited it were aware of the under 20 World Cup. The games I had were good. The first one was USA vs Maymnar and the second being Uzbekistan vs Fiji. There are no small games in a World Cup. Our referring team of mr. Camille and mr. Tan and me has worked together prior to the world in continental matches to understand each other and build co-operation. Liany from Israel, the fourth official, brought a lot experience and he helped our team well. It’s always a pleasure to meet referees from other parts of the world , we make new friendships and learn a lot in terms of how they control matches and learn from their style and approach of refereeing.”
What did you do to reach the tournament?
In terms of my training I followed a program. Normally I trained about 3 to 4 times a week (that includes matches on weekends or midweek games) . I focused a lot on offside judgment training as that is most critical aspect of my refereeing as an assistant referee.
How did you get involved in refereeing?
I started refereeing in September 1998. I was 16 years old at that time. The main reason I joined refereeing was to represent my football team in the local football association referee’s house in my town . Every team needed to have a referee in the house so they would get a referee in their matches as well.
How would ou describe the level of refereeing and facilities there are in South Africa?
I think the standard of refereeing in South Africa is growing fast with a lot of young referees being promoted in the elite league . If I have to compare it with the standard in Europe , I personally think the Europeans have high quality football which makes it better for the referees to develop in high standard. I think we have all the facilities to create high quality referees in South Africa as the elite league is starting to grow and attract players from outside the continent of Africa .
What do you like about refereeing so much and have you ever thought of quitting this hobby?
What I like the most about refereeing is being the involved in match to take correct and accurate decisions every time. I have never been put in a situation were I felt like quitting .
What’s the hardest challenge/problem you faced during your career? And how did you solve it?
The hardest challenge I ever faced was officiating at matches outside my country. As the environment and living conditions are not the same. Home teams think they deserve favours as well as supporters who can make situation more hostile if things don’t go their way . The easiest way of solving this situation is doing the right thing and making sure justice is served on the field of play. Making sure fair play prevails .
What are the best 3 tips you ever got that made you a better referee
- Be willing to learn all the time in refereeing .
- Be your own critic and be honest to yourself in order to accept and learn from your mistakes .
- Stay humbled and be a good listener
What do you expect for next season?
With the last season being won in a record number of points , I think it will be an exciting season which will need good preparation for me as a referee.