Female basketball officials need support...

18th November 2016
PROGRESS: Okatch wants women officials Source:The Midweek Sun

Botswana’s International Basketball Federation (FIBA) referee Dorothy Okatch  says skill and talent are never enough for a female referee to succeed in sport.

Okatch was speaking at the recent Africa Women in Sport Conference hosted by the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) in Gaborone over the weekend.

The conference, which was held under the theme, ‘Reshaping Africa Women and Sport’ attracted speakers from the United Kingdom, Europe, Kenya, Congo, Malawi and many more other countries to discuss issues surrounding women sport development in Africa.

Okatch began refereeing in 2002, in Namibia and later became the first Motswana to become a FIBA International Referee in 2014. Some of Okatch’s recent achievements   include officiating at the 2014 Under 18 Africa Championships held in Cairo Egypt, the 2015 Afro Basket Qualifiers in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, the 2015 Under 16 Qualifiers in Gaborone Botswana and also at the 2015 All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo.

The accomplished referee said that women referees are faced with a challenge of being undermined by their male counterparts who look down on women and often refuse to take orders from them. Okatch also said that lack of opportunities and growth also led to females developing cold feet to pursue careers in refereeing, adding that there is scarcity of role models in the field.

“There is also no allowance made for a female who is pregnant or nursing in the officiating career, I spent two years away from officiating because I fell pregnant,” she said.Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) has only three active female referees, while Africa has only 17 women FIBA Referees compared to the 118 of males.

Okatch noted that one pressing issue was that only a handful of women participate in FIBA competitions, adding that males usually outnumber them.
She suggested that there should be a recruitment drive in schools, among tertiary students and retired athletes, to encourage them to engage in sports. “More females should be found in administrations, be in technical officials committees and executive committees,” she said.

Discussions at the conference included plenary sessions on Influence of Culture on Women and Sport, Gender Mainstreaming into Sport and The Role of Media in Women’s Sport in Africa. There were also parallel sessions that looked into issues such as Mentorship and Empowering of Women in Sport in Africa, Promoting Equal Access to Sport and Gender based Violence in Sport.   

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