The bruised Zifa panel female referee Mercy Maimbo, who was assaulted by Black Rhinos Queens players last week for what they called “biased officiating”, says she will not throw in the towel after the ugly attack.
By Brian Nkiwane
In complete contrast, United States amateur hockey referee Scott Miskiewicz almost gave up the job last March after he was punched by a player during a game.
But Maimbo has vowed she will not abandon her job, acknowledging though that the unfortunate incident would be difficult to forget.
“It was the worst day of my life but throwing away the whistle never came into my mind,” she said.
The two teams — Black Rhinos Queens and Inline Academy — settled for a one-all draw in regulation time and a two-all draw after extra time, sending the match to penalties.
Inline converted all their five penalties while Mighty Warriors and Black Rhinos player Rufaro Machingura missed the fifth penalty.
Machingura, together with a team mate, then turned their fury on the referee with Machingura unleashing a powerful karate kick into the face of a stunned Maimbo.
The ugly incident and pictures of that infamous kick attracted acres of space on newspaper pages last week.
“From the way the match was played, I never suspected that anything of that sort could happen. Knowing most of the players in football circles, I did not even give room for such unbecoming behaviour,” Maimbo said.
She added, “This was the first time that such a thing happened to me in my refereeing career that spans more than five years now.”
Maimbo had to seek medical attention at Harare Hospital.
“After the attack I had severe nose bleeding and I was advised to seek medical attention. I spent about US$60 for medication and consultation at Harare Hospital. I was told that I had some torn tissues on my nose and the doctor who attended to me said I should see a specialist whom I could not get at the time I visited his surgery. I still have to see the specialist. But I am feeling much better now,” she said.
The incident seems to have given her more confidence in her job.
“I will always say this; there is no reason why I should quit refereeing. I never even thought of it when the incident happened. It has actually given me strength ahead of other challenging assignments,” Maimbo said.
The 24-year-old Morgan Zintec Teachers College student started her refereeing career five years ago, before graduating into the elite league.
Meanwhile, Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said they would leave the courts of the law to deal with the criminal aspect of this incident before the football governing body revokes football statutes that would likely put the football careers of the culprits into jeopardy.
“As an association, we condemn the attack on referees in the strongest terms. In terms of the rules of the game, the referee has the final decision and we would like to make it abundantly clear that referees are not to be attacked,” Gwesela said.
He added; “If someone puts the game of football into disrepute, the procedure you go through is a disciplinary hearing. As soon as we get the report from the referee and the match commissioner, the due process will follow as soon as possible.”