AT 27, Mercy Mayimbo could be playing soccer but she has chosen to be a referee and she is turning out to be very good one.
She is the only female centre referee in the Zifa Northern Region Division One League, and still strikes a balance between taking charge of football matches and her roles as a teacher, mother and wife.
Being married to a referee has also helped Mayimbo, who says her mother – who is also a teacher – made her fall in love with sports. “My mother nurtured me to be a sportsperson and I am using the same techniques she used to turn my son into a sportsperson too. He is six, loves soccer, and when he sees me refereeing matches he must certainly feel that I am the best mother in the world,” beamed Mayimbo.
The referee is always the fall guy, or girl in this case, and Mayimbo has plenty of tales to tell about life in the centre.
Like the 2014 incident at Rufaro Stadium involving Black Rhinos Queens players Rufaro Machingura and Tariro Makumbe. In July 2014, Machingura, Makumbe and four others attacked Mayimbo and kicked her to the ground after their team lost 4-5 on penalties to Inline Academy in the NetOne Cup final. “The Machingura and Makumbe incident had a great impact on my esteem but I did not let that get to me easily because I have been in the field for eight years now,” a confident Mayimbo said.
Surprisingly, she added that she encountered “more problems” with female players than males. “Not all men appreciate women but I’ve had more clashes with women than men. I don’t know why but it seems women are not ready to support each other. “For me the biggest motivation is the knowledge that I am making history and charting a way for young girls. Girls must appreciate that they can be more than just wives and mothers,” said Mayimbo.