SAFA in 2014 launched their eight-year technical development plan dubbed Vision 2022, with the hopes of fulfilling the potential of the various men’s and women’s national teams.
Four years on, the association have now included the development of match officials following a lucrative endorsement from South African insurance company OUTsurance.
SAFA vice-president Ria Ledwaba has lauded the sponsorship and stressed the importance of improving the standard of refereeing in the country to have a bigger presence both in CAF and FIFA competitions.
“One of the issues is that we have only Akona Makalima there in the Premier Soccer League from the women’s side. We want to see more Akonas coming up the ranks,” emphasised Ledwaba.
“We have a lot of women referees down there that are doing games, and we want to see a lot more referees going to do their duties in CAF.
“We haven’t seen much of South Africa producing referees at the FIFA level – at the World Cup you only see one or two people.
“But it is about time that South Africa becomes a leader on the continent in terms of producing referees. That’s why we’re talking about 15 000 referees by 2022.”
OUTsurance will be pumping R50-million into this initiative over the next five years, with match officials also set to don the distinctive colours of the brand beginning in this weekend’s Absa Premiership, National First Division, ABC Motsepe League and SAB League fixtures.
Ledwaba also believes the cash injection will address some key issues.
“I think the sponsorship will enhance and encourage referees to now be smart and obey the rules of the game, and also to look smart with their outfits and colours – they are beautiful,” she said.
“It is just an encouragement because the referees have been crying out over a period of years that there is nothing for them, their travel fees were not paid on time and all that. I think this [sponsorship] will change that.
“Teams have also been complaining about paying the travelling fees of the referees instead of the association, and we have already taken the decision that we will now be taking responsibility of [paying] the referees and letting the teams go out and play the game.”