The name Akhona Makalima is growing in limbs and bounds in South African football, but not only is she being recognised in the country, the global football community is set to know the first certified SA female referee.
ALSO READ: PSL referee Makalima jumps for joy after World Cup selection
Makalima, who is a Premier Soccer League, Caf and Fifa referee, was nominated by Caf as a candidate referee for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but, it hasn’t been an easy journey for her getting into a male dominated sport.
“Most work in male-dominated fields requires women to work twice as hard, because we start on the back foot. You know you are being denied opportunities because you are a woman,” said the Eastern Cape-born Makalima.
“Even if you are the best, selectors will pass you up because they believe women don’t have what it takes or that there are other emotions at play when choosing a woman. It is assumed that men know the game better and as a woman, you constantly have to prove yourself no matter how good you are. When you and a man score the same in assessments, you have to do everything to prove you are better because they will pick the man if you don’t.”
Makalima, who is part of Momentum’s Womentum Tribe, a class of powerful women from different disciplines who are spearheading the #SheOwnsHerSuccess campaign, says women need stop doubting themselves and that she is where she is today because of all the hard work she has done over the years.
“I worked hard to be here, and I didn’t want to get here by being just a quota or to fill up numbers – I want equality because I am equal in strength, ability, and desire. You have to invest in yourself to say that you are able to take up that kind of space. And it’s not just about being the best at what you do. It’s about banging on doors, demanding a seat at the table, and raising your voice at the table because that will open that very same door for the next woman,” concluded Makalima.