By NONTSIKELELO LENTO
Akhona Makhalima is the only professional female soccer referee in South Africa. She was born in a small town, Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. She always had a love for soccer, starting off as a soccer player, and grew wings to become an assistant referee in 2011. She is now a FIFA accredited referee.
Makhalima has refereed 7 national and 7 international games and has performed 13 fourth official duties in her career so far, which includes PSL debuts. She believes staying in shape, by staying fit and strong and avoiding injuries, is important. Apart from being a former soccer player, Makhalima has also worked as a beauty consultant and a model for different modelling agencies and is now currently hosting a radio show, “Women’s Sports Buffet”, at Keith Ngesi Radio.
According to Makhalima, Keith Ngesi Radio gave her an opportunity and platform to reach the masses with a message that gives hope, unity and transformation. She also empowers young girls and reaches out to them using her first-hand experience and background. She encourages these young girls to participate in sport, because she feels there are few female athletes and that sports are male dominated. Makhalima feels that women don’t get as much support as men and their existence in sports goes un-noticed.
Makhalima lives by the quote: “Sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair” – Nelson Mandela.