Mitchell blows into history books

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Absa Premiership referee Deidre Mitchell will be the only female whistle blower from Africa who will handle some of the soccer matches at the Olympics in Beijing, China, next month.

Mitchell passed a stringent Fifa fitness test that was conducted by the international body's physical instructor, Toshio Utsumi, at the Johannesburg Stadium on Sunday.

Another local female referee, Nomvula Masilela, is also likely to make it to Beijing as an assistant referee after she passed the test.

Masilela was tested on Monday after her counterpart from Morocco, Souad Oulhaj, failed the test on Sunday.

Kristen Nematandani, South African Football Association (Safa's) national referees committee chairman, confirmed that Masilela has passed the test.

"We are waiting for an official confirmation from Fifa regarding Nomvula," said Nematandani yesterday.

Africa will also be represented on the assistant referees' panel by South Africa's Enock Molefe, Ndah Tempa of Benin, Rwandan Celestine Ntanguangira, Evarist Menkouande of Cameroon and Tunisian Bachir Hassini

South Africa's Jerome Damon and Dadara Diatta of Senegal will be joining Mitchell on the referees panel.

"We are excited that we will have four match officials in the Olympics considering that we did not have any at the Athens Olympics," said Nematandani.

"This just shows that we are doing something good for refereeing in the country. There is also something positive our counterparts from the continent are doing for the development of refereeing in Africa.

"It will be good for the continent when we host the 2010 Word Cup. Damon and Molefe have been identified as understudies for the World Cup and it is good for them to be considered for many international assignments.

"We have confidence in our match officials and wish them best of luck out there," added Nematandani, who is also a Safa national executive committee (NEC) member.