- Emerges best in CAF elite referees’ course
Malawi’s most decorated Fifa assistant referee Bernadettar Kwimbira-Mzika has made the country proud after emerging overall best performer during the CAF Elite Women’s Referees Course held in Djibouti from October 25 to 29.
This is the second time the 35-year-old multi-award winning referee has completed a course as best performer. In 2013, she also achieved the feat at a joint Elite Men and Women Referees Course in Cairo, Egypt.
The former middle distance athlete-turned Fifa assistant referee beat 32 other referees (17 centre referees and 15 assistant referees) drawn from 24 African countries after impressing in theory and practical sessions.
In an interview yesterday, Kwimbira, who was the only Malawian at the course, said she was happy to have done it because there were many good referees.
She said: “I remember that it was in 2013 that I emerged overall best performer when I attended the joint women and men Elite A course in Egypt and after six years it has happened again.
“We have a lot of good and up-and-coming referees as well as my fellow veterans and it wasn’t easy to come out tops. This is not only good for me, but Malawi football as well.”
Kwimbira-Mzika appealed to fellow referees to work hard and be disciplined to follow in her footsteps.
“I have done it and I am only human just like any referee. They can do it. I will be very happy to see another Malawian referee male or female reaching the level that I have reached today,” she said.
Asked on what drives her to get such feats, the former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officer summed up: “It’s all down to hard work. I also put God first because He always fights for me.”
On future plans, Kwimbira-Mzika said if opportunities arise, she would like to contribute to the development of referees in the country.
For her feat, she received a tracksuit, trainers, CAF branded flash disc, a match ball and trophy.
Tunisian Ganouti Dorsaf was second and received T-shirt, baseball cap and flash disc while Rwandan Salma Mukansanga was third and got a T-shirt and flash disc.
In an interview yesterday, legendary referee Bester Kalombo, who served as the first CAF director of referees, applauded Kwimbira-Mzika for her relentless efforts to reach greater heights in refereeing.
“It is not surprising that she has done it because she works hard. She did it six years ago and as her mentor, I am proud of her achievements,” he said.
Kalombo, who remains the only Malawian centre referee to officiate at Africa Cup of Nations and Olympics Games in the 1980s, also appealed to aspiring referees to take education seriously.
“We need people who are passionate about refereeing and they should also have sound education,” the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) referees sub-committee member said.
On his part, FAM referees development officer Maxwell Mtonga said her outstanding performance has helped regional bodies such as Cosafa and CAF to recognise Malawi.
“It’s encouraging and inspirational. Malawian referees are being held in high esteem because of Bernanadettar Kwimbira-Mzika. She is a hard-worker,” he said.
Among other high-profile assignments, she has officiated at two Fifa Women’s World Cups, five Women’s Afcon finals, one Olympics Games, one Youth Olympics, Fifa Women’s Under 20 World Cup and Mediterranean Games.