One of Africa’s top female rugby referees, Precious Pazani, has urged Namibian women to get more involved in rugby in order to develop the sport in the country.
Compared to Pazani’s native Zimbabwe where there are 13 female referees, Namibia only has two female referees at the moment- Geraldine Louw and Doreen Koen - who both have obtained the world rugby level 1 (Introduction to match officiating) qualification.
But Louw and Koen cannot officiate in any international matches because they do not possess the requisite world rugby level three course qualification.
Pazani is also a rugby coach at Lomagundi College in Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe and is currently enjoying travelling around Africa as she is mostly used as an assistant referee in the ongoing Africa Gold Cup matches.
Pazani was an assistant referee in Windhoek on 16 June, during Namibia’s opening match against Uganda in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup.
“Depending on the game, we get appointed as either center referee or assistant referee. I started officiating in 2014 and I chose the sport because I love it,” Pazani said in a recent interview with the Windhoek Observer, adding that her friends initially urged her to become involved in rugby.
“Most of them were playing basketball and during the off season they would play rugby. I always wanted to play rugby, so when they asked me to come play, I did.”
Pazani played for the Zimbabwean national team until 2015.
If it was not for the support and the encouragement from her family and friends, Pazani said she could not be where she is today in a male dominated sport.
Having established herself as one of Africa’s top female rugby referees, Pazani encourages Namibian women to follow their dreams.
“The message I have for all the ladies in Namibia that want to become a rugby referee is that they should go ahead and get involved. Rugby unions are more than happy and prepared to assist in the development of the ladies that want to officiate,” Pazani declared.
Besides being a regular visitor to Namibia during Gold Cup matches, Pazani has also officiated in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia.
The level three world rugby officiating certificate holder is hopeful that one day she will be selected to take charge of a match at a big stage such as the world cup.
“I have gone to South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia with officiating, but I have never been to a world cup and I will continue to work hard and hopefully one day I will be appointed to officiate at the world cup,” Pazani said.
“Ladies should get involved in rugby especially in playing and officiating, there are plenty of opportunities.”