There could have been no better way of describing local top-notch refereesâ€™ performance by world football governing body Fifa, than excellent!
It is not every day that we celebrate a moment of brilliance by our sports personalities, in particular, football referees, but on Tuesday was one of them, when all, but one, of the 35 local top referees passed the joint Fifa/CAF elite referees gruelling fitness test at College of Medicine in Blantyre.
The 34 will be eligible for Fifa badges.
The only casualty was former Fifa assistant referee James Chimeza who was betrayed by a hamstring injury and was forced to bow out in the ninth of the 12 laps of 400 metres each.
Even Fifa referees development officer for the region, Carlos Henriques, could not help but hail the exceptional accomplishment: “This is very good! Absolutely superb and I am very impressed with the performance.
“The results speak for themselves. You certainly cannot get anything better than that and football is going to improve in Malawi,” said Henriques.
He hailed the commitment shown by all the participants as well as the FAM referees subcommittee.
The Fifa trainer also said assistant women referees Grace Msiska and Happiness Mbandambanda, who are officiating at the CAF Women Championship in Equatorial Guinea, also made the grade after undergoing the same test prior to the tournament.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) executive committee member James Mwenda, who is also FAM referees subcommittee chairperson, expressed delight with the outcome.
Fifa referees, veteran Kalyoto Ngosi and Anthony Raphael, who are considered among the best on the domestic scene said the outcome was testimony that local referees are doing well.
Said Ngosi: “The results are encouraging and for me, personally, it is an achievement considering my age [44 years]. We had sound preparations and I would like to thank the authorities for the role they played.”
On his part, Raphael said: “It has been good. I think we have done it to perfection and the soccer fraternity should expect good things. I also thank the Almighty God for giving us the strength. It was not easy.”
One of the assistant referees Boswell Msangu said the record could have been 100 percent had Chimeza not been let down by injury.
Apart from Ngosi and Raphael, the elite referees who passed the test were Jones Makhuwira, Mabvuto Msimuko, Dennis Ngulube and Fransico Scova. The assistant referees included Msangu, Patrick Ngulanga and Feston Kusekuse.
Apart from Henriques, those who conducted the course included local experts Ephraim Mzengo, Moffat Champiti, Evance Chiphwanya, Verson Lwanja, Charles Kafatia, McGovern Mpeni, Martha Nyekanyeka and Patrick Kapanga who heads the National Referees Committee.
Later in the day, the referees started a five-day elite course.