Abel Mataboge who recently made history as the first Motswana to acquire the highest International Softball Federation (ISF) umpire certificate says he is elated with his achievement.
He told Mmegi Sport that this is the beginning of more achievements. He said his aim is to help Botswana and Africa to develop more internationally-acclaimed umpires.
Mataboge recently completed an ISF umpire certification course in Florida to reach the pinnacle of softball officiating. The 30-year-old former Botswana Softball Association (BSA) chief umpire said it took hard work for him to achieve the feat. He becomes the first African outside South Africa to get the certification. Five South Africans have already received the qualification. When Mataboge started playing softball at Sedibelo Junior Secondary School in 1995, he never thought he would move so quickly through the ranks although he always excelled in the sport. He became an umpire in 2003 while still playing for Mochudi Raiders.
He joined the Southern region league committee in 2005 where he was the deputy chief umpire. Though he did not train as an umpire, he did well and caught the eye of BSA. In 2006, Mataboge attended a Level I African Certification course in Zimbabwe. After the course, he was not allowed to play anymore because he had to concentrate on umpiring only. Mataboge attributes his achievements to passion, commitment and hard work. He said although he had faced challenges, he has been focused.
“My main challenge is to help other umpires to develop to international standards,” he said. South Africa will be hosting the junior girls World Championships this year and Mataboge stand a good chance of being roped in as an umpire. “Starting with young teams will really help me start my international career,” he said. He advised aspiring umpires to work hard and be committed if they want to make it to the top. Mataboge is grateful to BSA for believing in him and giving him a chance to excel. “They made me what I am and for that I want to thank them,” he said.