Local Fifa assistant referee, Bernadettar Kwimbira-Mzika, has earned selection to an elite officiation panel for the 2018 Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France, the latest achievement in her burgeoning career.
Kwimbira-Mzika is the only Malawian female to have ever officiated on the world stage and, alongside retired referee great, Bester Kalombo, the only ones from this country to be assigned to world competitions.
The Zomba-based referee is among seven referees from Africa selected for the competition, three being assistant referees from the continent. The competition will run from August 5 to 24.
In a statement released yesterday, Fifa states that its Referees Committee has, in total, appointed 15 female referees and 30 female assistant referees the world over.
“The selection criteria for the match officials from 21 different countries was based on their experience in their respective association and confederation competitions, as well as their levels of fitness and ability to read the game. Those selected for the tournament in Brittany this summer will also be candidates to officiate at the Fifa Women’s World Cup France 2019,” reads a statement from www.fifa.com.
Kwimbira-Mzika has made the list alongside fellow assistant referees from Africa namely Mary Njoroge (Kenya), Lidwine Rakotozafinoro (Madagascar) and Queency Victoire from Mauritius.
Centre referees who have made the list from Africa are Gladys Lengwe from Zambia and Ethiopian Lidya Abebe.
Reacting to her appointment, Kwimbira- Mzika Wednesday said she was determined to represent Malawi at the competition with honour.
“I am ready mentally and physically. To be selected for competitions of such magnitude, you need to pass a fitness test locally, undergo a medical and, before the competition, I will also undergo a pre-tournament course, which includes a final fitness test,” she said.
Football Association of Malawi Referees Development Officer, Maxwell Mtonga, Wednesday said they were proud of Kwimibira-Mzika’s achievement.
“She is a jewel for the country. She is doing well and we encourage her never to lose track. There are many things that can make her lose track, including age; hence, we urge her to train harder. Officiating at that level means a lot. Even in terms of remuneration, she will be smiling all the way from France,” Mtonga said.
During recent Malawi Sports Awards, Kwimbira- Mzika won Best Referee and Sports Personality of the Year 2017 awards at an event the Malawi National Council of Sports hosted in Lilongwe in March.
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