A day in the life of a referee

Five years of sweat and tears to be recognised as a referee.

28 January 2020 | People

Pull quote: It's my life; I live for this sport... - Samuel Mayele Nghipandulwa

Michelline Nawatises



Samuel Mayele Nghipandulwa is 23 years old and hails from Ruacana, Oshifo. He started grade one and two at Oshoopala Combined School and completed primary school at Otjihozu Combined School before proceeding to Ombuumbu Junior Secondary School for grades eight to 10.

“I failed grade 10 in 2014 and in 2017 I went to KAYEC and studied a tiling course,” Nghipandulwa says. This was just a stepping stone to something better, though. After that, he decided to focus on football. He admits that he is not a fan of school but he just might complete the tiling course as he is a handy person.

Nghipandulwa began his refereeing career when I was 11 years old in 2007. “I started as an assistant referee. I used a stick with plastic as my flag and my whistle was just a can filled with stones,” he says. It was all humble beginnings until one day he got the chance to officiate the games that took place every day during training.

His first game as referee was in 2013 at Scorpion Zinc, then followed the Namibian Newspaper Cup and later he started his professional league game at Outapi Blue Birds against Mighty Gunners (First Division).

“I spent five years on first division and moved to the Namibia Premier League (NPL) and my first game was Rundu Chiefs against Eleven Arrows,” he says. Nghipandulwa further adds how daunting of a task it was for him to cope with the NPL pressure.

It took Nghipandulwa five years to become a recognised referee.

“My current role in refereeing is that I'm at Namibia Premier League level (NPL) and working towards earning my Fifa badge as soon as I turn 25,” he says.

He later got a chance to go international at Gothia Cup (China) and is currently at the IberCup (Brazil), which is a famous youth tournament.

When asked how he tolerates the behaviour of an inconsiderate fan he said it’s a tough-love moment. “I hate it and love it at the same time because it gives me a character to stand strong on my feet and make good decisions without fear,” he says.

He simply loves the game. “I enjoy it! it connects people from every corner of the world. It's my life; I live for this sport, there is no other sport which is better than this sport and the good part of it is that it doesn't matter if you're young or old, black or white, rich or poor, all you have is to understand the rules and have the ball or something ball-shaped,” he says.

He adds that the sport has not given him a house or a car yet but it has made him who he is today. It has made him respected by many, has taken him to different places that he never thought he would see, and allowed him to see different styles of soccer.

Soon, he sees himself at the Fifa panel among other successful referees. What he enjoys most about being a referee is the power invested in a referee.

“All people will look up to you for having the final decision, it feels nice when I'm in charge and making good decisions,” he says.

One of the best moments of his career so far was walking away with the referee award at the Scorpion Zinc Cup. Another moment for the books was when he was promoted to the Premier League.

Whenever he finds himself in a stressful situation Nghipandulwa takes his time as there is always a procedure to follow. “One bad game doesn't define who you are as a referee as not all the games will be good but being consistent on your great performance is the key,” he says.

The advice he gives to aspiring referees is to believe in yourself. “Work on yourself, stop complaining and go through the pain because it'll make you stronger.” One of his best childhood memories was when he first got his first whistle and cards.

Facts about Samuel Nghipandulwa

1. He is disciplined.

2. He is straight forward.

3. He is a hard worker.

4. He is a dream chaser.

5. He is a happy chappy.

6. He is an honest individual.

7. He always stays positive.

8. He is not a fan of fake people.

9. He respects friendships.

10 He is very passionate about soccer.

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