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Shaanika learns from Afcon finals

by John Tuerijama


The experience gained by one of Namibia’s outstanding referees, David Shaanika at the recently concluded African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals should serve the local soccer fraternity in good stead.
Additionally, that same experience should possibly put an end to the indecisiveness and unprofessionalism in decision-making by certain local referees and their assistants in domestic elite league matches.
Recently, emotions have been sky-rocketing and at times uncontrollable at the playing fields simply because of some unwarranted decisions taken by the ‘man dressed in black’ in the middle of the park or his assistants.
Namibia boasts a number of young referees who are fully-fledged Fifa-accredited professionals but spectators have been unimpressed by some of the decisions taken by the referees, which unfairly resulted in teams losing their much needed points for their survival in the top league.
Veteran referee and Fifa’s Referee Instructor, Boy-Boy Ndjadila and the National Referee Committee should seriously consider staging a ‘national referees’ indaba’ as it is an integral component of football development, if at all Namibia wishes to professionalise the sport.
Shaanika, who at the recent Afcon finals co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon only officiated two matches, claims that he gained enough experience at the continental football spectacle.
The young lad was the second referee assistant during the match between Sudan vs. Angola in which the two played to a 2-all draw and the match between Libya and Senegal in which Libya surprisingly defeated one of the pre-tournament favourites by 2-1.
“The Afcon final is really another level of football action and it was a tough learning experience for all, especially myself. Imagine, some assistant referees only managed to officiate one match but I was lucky to have officiated two different matches,” said Shaanika.
He said their performances were monitored by independent instructors who at the end, briefed the four officials on the mistakes picked up during a match.
The clearly excited Shaanika added that most of the issues pointed out were about off-side decisions, positioning of referees and their assistants and on the co-operation and communication amongst the officials during matches.
“I am telling you now, fitness of referees and assistants are a top priority because of the up and down-running on the flanks to ensure that positive and credible decisions are taken and not compromised on the standard of the match,” stressed the referee.
He added that poor fitness levels of any referee or assistant negatively impacts on the outcome of the match as the standard of concentration is mostly affected and in the end, leading to poor judgements and incorrect decisions taken.
“I had no difficulties in communicating with the locals in Equatorial Guinea as I speak a bit of basic French, so I was able to communicate,” he said.
Shaanika, who graduated last year at the Windhoek College of Education, added that all expenses were taken care of by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) including their payments.
The first-ever Namibian referee to officiate at the Afcon finals hopes to get more international invites from CAF as well as from FIFA in the near future but surely, he has his eye set for the 19th edition of the Afcon finals to be hosted by neighbouring South Africa next year.
He wishes that more Namibian referees get invited to officiate matches at bigger football tournaments but cautioned them to be updated with the new developments in football by attending refresher courses at all times and most importantly, keep their fitness levels intact.