Disabled referee Jacob Maluleke feels he's being sidelined

SAB League referee Jacob Maluleke has a dream to officiate in the PSL in future and show the country that disabled people are capable.

Maluleke, 26, hails from Makoxa village, just outside Giyani - in Limpopo. He runs the line as an assistant referee in SA's fourth tier.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, he said he believes he's good enough to get games in the ABC Motsepe League, the third tier but is often sidelined.

Maluleke earns R400 per match in the SAB and is paid a social disability grant of R1,700 monthly.

He suffered burns to his arm and head when he was four years old. His mother had gone out to get water and his father was fast asleep when the clothes he was wearing caught fire. He was rescued by passers-by.

"I just feel that I'm being sidelined because of my disability. I know I'm talented and I can do the job," said Maluleke, who has been refereeing since 2012.

"Even using one hand I manage as an assistant and can use the flag using one hand," he said.

"I just need one opportunity to show the country that disabled people are capable of doing these jobs. Don't sideline us. I just need an opportunity," he said.

"I think disabled people are scared that people are going to say why are we not staying at home and depend on our social grants. I don't look at such things and in fact, I even played the game with my disability. I've heard some of my colleagues say why do I bother since I have a social grant.

"But what I want is to show that my disability doesn't stop me from being who I want to be. Isn't it funny that there are Olympic games for the disabled [Paralympics] and you have people who are not disabled refereeing in those games?"

Maluleke is inspired by Limpopo-born PSL referees Victor Hlungwani, from Homu 14 B and Jelly Chavani, from Elim.

Hlungwani has previously given Maluleke an opportunity to officiate at his annual Zama-Zama Sports Challenge.

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