UNITY CUP- SPECIAL OFFICIALS!
The Special Olympics Africa Unity Cup 2012 was deemed to be a success judging by the outmost diligence in preparing the Athletes, Coaches and Officials. What was most interesting with this one is the fact that we were to experience our own Special Olympics Athletes take charge by officiating in the games. The official training started in February 2012 with a maximum of 10 Athletes accommodated, as we speak we still have athletes who are still training. It was three day training with both practical’s and rules.
Through the Athlete Leadership Programme (ALP`s) Special Olympics South Africa had five Athletes who were trained by South African Football Association to officiate in football games. Respectively they are Jimmy Nhlanhla Masina, Samuel Phasha, Philani Ngwane, Simphiwe Gidigidi and Sipho Radebe. Among the Athletes Jimmy managed to pass the exam by 70% whilst the other qualifying athlete Arnold Ngqulunga passed by 72% but did not make it to the event.
Rex Molepo, who is a SAFA referee and match commissioner at the unity cup said that, the overall organization was good and very entertaining. He added and said, “It was good to have athletes with intellectual disabilities officiate in games, it was my first and I hope to see more of it”. Acknowledging the games he said, “Games were better than tournaments I attended before, and this is what we call development”.
An athlete Official trainer and examiner Samuel Maduwa said that “I am happy about giving this opportunity to Special Olympics athlete to officiate. He added that if more training can be provided a lot more can be achieved, we can see athlete with disabilities reach new heights.
Samuel Phasha- Athlete Official who had his first time experience in officiating and is such a prestigious event and is still in training thought the organization of the tournament was well in order. He also said that there was no mistake in the event although punctuality was a challenge. Appreciating the chance they were given, he said, “I did not see this one coming”. There was delay in start of matches because of teams still warming up, and at times it affected the whole match programme of the day he added. He continued to say it was a perfect opportunity for us as athletes to officiate, through assistance we can take over as athletes at our local games.
Jimmy Masina thought the games were fun and is promising to even officiate in his community where he lives even with the main stream football games. He said, “I enjoyed the events since generally I am someone who likes football. He added by saying he wants to upgrade his officiating skill to the next level. Jimmy also thanked the mentors they had chosen to help with the understanding of the induction and processes. Each athlete had to have a mentor to help with the reading, explaining and answering of questions throughout the training.
“Let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt”