Whistle earns boy (12) respect

BIG DREAMS . . . Young referee Anotida Chilundu (second from right) monitors a scrum situation shadowing veteran referee, Dave Mathews, yesterday during Glen View 2’s 5-0 win over Kuwadzana 1. — (Picture by Innocent Makawa)

BIG DREAMS . . . Young referee Anotida Chilundu (second from right) monitors a scrum situation shadowing veteran referee, Dave Mathews, yesterday during Glen View 2’s 5-0 win over Kuwadzana 1. — (Picture by Innocent Makawa)

Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
HE might be the smallest man on the field, but the power of the whistle makes him the biggest, and players don’t only listen to him but respect what he says. Meet the 12-year-old rugby referee-in-the-making, Anodiwa “Arnold” Chilunda, the youngest match official, who has a big dream. The energetic and humble Chilundu stands at a height just above that of a scrum in action but that does not count when he calls the shots — it’s all about doing as he says.

He wants to be an international referee one day.

Yesterday, he was a running shadow under the guidance of Dave Mathews at Allan Wilson’s Sable Field, one of the many being used for the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival.

“We are getting old and will not be able to take to the field and that is where development comes in,” said Mathews.

“He is a very enthusiastic referee and he is not the only one because we also have girls and other young boys coming through as well.

“It will take time for them to mature and that is why we keep encouraging them.”

Chilundu said he always wanted to be a referee.

“I have always loved doing this, my mother (Juddy) and brother, who has since resigned from refereeing the game, have motivated me a lot and I have the passion to carry on doing this,” said Chilundu.

“I used to play rugby at my school (Herentals) in Tynwald but I have since concentrated on refereeing because it is something I love doing.

“It is not just about listening to what the senior referees say to me, but at home my mum also helps me and where I would have gone wrong she corrects me.

“It’s so fortunate I have someone who supports me in this, not just by word of mouth, but action as well.

“I joined the association last year, I was a bit afraid but that (fear) has since disappeared and I am getting more confident all the time.

“In all the games I have been involved in at the festival, I enjoyed the game between Glen View 2 High and Kuwadzana, I think I am getting better and I believe that some day I will be an international referee.”

His involvement in the game has been welcomed by the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Society and assessor, and educator, Walter Njowa, believes he has a lot of potential.

“The boy is very enthusiastic and wants to learn and, given correct guidance, he will be very good at his game,” said Njowa.

“He is only 12 and imagine how he will be in the next four or five years.

“We are on a drive to get more people to come along and be referees. When most people think of rugby all that goes through their mind is playing but for the game to be played we also need referees.

“Coaches and other former and current players are also coming through and that is something we encourage a lot.

“As for these young referees, like Arnold, we get them to be guided by a senior referee and once they are able to stand on their own, we give them games in primary schools.”