Young referee dreams big

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Lesotho football referee Souru Phatšoane
Lesotho football referee Souru Phatšoane

Mikia Kalati

One of Lesotho’s youngest football referees, Souru Phatšoane (27), is living his dream as he officiates his third Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament, which ends on Saturday in Rustenburg, South Africa.

Phatšoane, who was born and grew up in Tšenola, embarked on his refereeing career in 2009 and not by design but by sheer accident.

According to Phatšoane, he had only gone to watch the game when he was asked to be one of the two assistant referees, which he gladly accepted. And three years down the line, Phatšoane was not only handling premier league matches but also international fixtures.

“I had gone to watch a high school football competition as I was coaching young kids from my village and was then asked to be one of the assistant referees. From that day, in 2009, my passion for refereeing grew from strength to strength and as the saying goes, the rest is but history,” Phatšoane.

Phatšoane, who is the youngest referee at the Cosafa tournament and was an assistant during the opening match of the regional competition between Namibia and Seychelles on 17 May, is expected to be one of the officials handling Saturday’s final at  Moruleng Stadium.

According to Phatšoane, after his freak debut in 2009, he then enrolled for a Basic Refereeing Course the same year, and has been on “numerous courses” both at home and abroad since.

“I must say, I’m a bit surprised with the way I have grown in this profession. This is my third Cosafa  tournament but my first for senior teams. I officiated at the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Cosafa under-20 competitions in Botswana and Lesotho, respectively, so this is the third time I am at the regional competition.”

In addition to the regional tournaments, Phatšoane also officiated at the 2015 African under-17 Football Championship held in Niger in February this year, as well as African Confederations Cup matches .

“It’s been a privilege for me to officiate at all these competitions but credit goes to senior referees at the Lesotho Football Association and those who have since retired, for lending me a helping hand and  prepare me for the future,” said Phatšoane.

“I know I still have a long way to go and I’m confident that I will one of the officials for the final on Saturday since I was part of the opening tie.

“My main dream is to officiate at the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup, then I will know that my job is done,” he said.

For a referee of his age, Phatšoane admitted that he has had goose bumps before the start of matches especially where the stakes are very high.

“It is natural to be a bit scared when you are in charge of a big match, but that goes away as the game progresses,” Phatšoane said.

“These are some of the challenges you face in this profession, but they also make you grow and become a better referee.”

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