As the AFCON 2021 tournament that is hosted in Cameroon comes to an end, there have been a lot of buzzworthy actions not only from players but also match officials.
In a match between Tunisia and Mali, Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe surprised the world after he prematurely ended the match twice. The match official was a subject of ridicule from social media and leading mainstream media across the world. However, it was later confirmed that Sikazwe suffered a heatstroke due to the hot tropical climate of Cameroon.
On a positive note, much credits have gone to referee Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia for his experience and good decision making while officiating. Despite the Kenyan football team failure to qualify for the AFCON tournament, two match officials: Dr. Peter Waweru and Gilbert Cheruiyot were selected to oversee various matches in Cameroon. Here is their story as told by whownskenya.com.
Dr. Peter Waweru Kamaku
Peter Waweru is a renowned centre referee who has steadily risen up the ranks and is currently regarded as the best centre referee in Kenya. The 40 year old also boasts of a decorated curriculum vitae having secured a PhD and MSc in Pure Mathematics from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Waweru is a lecturer and sports director at JKUAT. The determined match official doesn’t shy away from the fact that he began refereeing at low profile matches in Kenya after doing his basics in Kayole, Nairobi.
It took sheer hard work and consistency before he became an accredited FIFA referee in 2017. In 2019, he was also part of AFCON referees and oversaw the match between Ivory Coast and Namibia.
Last year, he was feted as the best referee in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League awards. At the 2021 AFCON, he was in charge of Nigeria versus Guinea Bissau match where he excited fans by his style of running. Waweru was captured sprinting with his knees high while keeping his back straight at the dying minutes of the match.
Asks how it feels like to officiate international games, Waweru says: “The magnitude is very different, the expectations from every team is super (because) each country is playing for its pride. There is no simple game.”
The JKUAT don however says the refereeing job is not yet fully embraced in Kenya and he intends to start a referee academy.
The 38 year old hails from Baringo county and had dreams of becoming a professional footballer. However, his parents reprimanded him as they thought football was an oddball career.
“Coming from a community that likes athletics more than any other sport was one of the main challenges. My community considers playing football a waste of time. And I could receive a beating from my parents whenever they saw me play with my peers,” Cheruiyot told the Standard in 2021.
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After his ambition to play soccer began to slowly fade especially after his high school education, Cheruiyot decided to change gears and pursued match officiating.
In 2008, the teacher of History and Geography pursued basic referee course as he set his eyes across Kenyan borders.
The assistant referee’s career has risen to unprecedented levels over the years. In 2015, he officiated in the CAF U17 tournament in Niger, then in the African Nations Championship the following year.
In 2018, the touchline man bagged the most improved assistant referee in Kenya. Last year, he was part of match officials in charge of the Tokyo Olympics. He now works on being selected to officiate at the FIFA World Cup.
Match officials in charge of CAF games have previously lamented over delays in salaries prompting the football governing body to intervene. Initially, referees were paid by host nations, a matter which raised credibility questions. CAF was forced to do away with the regulation and began paying match officials directly.
As reported by BBC Sport, centre referees earn up to $1200 (Ksh 135600) per match. The officials are however paid a higher amount lump sum tournament amount on the basis of meriting to be part of referees.