The National Referees Committee chairperson, Edwin Senai has hailed the history making trio of women referees; Julia Lekgowe, Tshepiso Ramothobogeng and Yvonne Letota.
The three took charge of a beMOBILE Premiership clash between BDF XI and Orapa United recently, a first in the history of local football.
Lekgowe was the centre referee while Ramothogobeng and Letota were her assistants. Senai said his committee celebrates the historic moment, as they perceive it a great achievement to the refereeing fraternity. “It is a great achievement to us as this may inspire other aspiring referees. It is evident what our female referees are capable of in terms of both physical and mental strength,” Senai said.
He said there are structures in place to ensure there is continuous nurturing of female referees. Senai said it is his committee’s desire to see more female referees particularly those who are FIFA-accredited, handling CAF assignments. “We wish that the female referees would officiate all the women’s league and some of the Premiership games. I believe with the experience they will get from our local leagues they would be capable of handling international assignments,” he said. He acknowledged that there are challenges facing aspiring female referees in Botswana.
“They face the same challenges as other women such as family commitments. We have had incidents where some of our referees had to quit refereeing to focus on commitments such as marriage, but as of now we have a good number of female referees,” he said.
The Botswana Premier League chief executive officer, Bennett Mamelodi said his office welcomes the move but insists referees are appointed on merit.
“We insist that the referees should be chosen on merit and as of now we are happy with the performance of the local referees,” he said.
Glenda Mokoka became the first ever FIFA- accredited local woman referee. She officiated in both the Premiership and the lower divisions.
She handled an international friendly between Lesotho and Zimbabwe and a league fixture between Jwaneng Comets and Mochudi Centre Chiefs. Upon her retirement, she took over as a referee instructor at the Botswana Football Association (BFA).