Zambian teacher blows his whistle to global fame
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Zambian teacher blows his whistle to global fame

Posted MICHAEL CHAWE in Lusaka

on  Monday, March 27   2017 at  18:41

Janny Sikazwe, 37, is a Zambian Fifa referee who caused a social media frenzy in his soccer-loving nation after officiating at the last Africa Cup of Nation (Afcon) final between Cameroon and Egypt.

Cameroon beat Egypt in the Gabon final on February 5.

Sikazwe was only the second Zambian referee to officiate at continental competitions after the late Kabalamula Chayu in the 1980s.

A quick perusal of social media platforms like Facebook revealed such comments as; "even if Zambia is not in this year’s competition, I'm watching Afcon finals because of Janny!!!."

A red card

Sikazwe has won himself global acclaim after officiating at four Afcons and the World Club Cup in Japan between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers of Japan in December 2016. He made headlines when he famously did not give Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos a red card for a foul in the final.

Sikazwe is a teacher of mathematics and physical education at Lukanda Secondary School in the small central district of Kapiri Mposhi -a transit town on the way to the Great North Road that leads to the north of Zambia and the Tanzanian border.

Very optimistic

In his capacity as a teacher, he has been elevated to work at the district level in a much more administrative role than actual classroom teaching.

After doing rounds of Afcon competitions, Sikazwe was setting his ambitions higher.

"After doing Afcon, there is really little to look forward to in this career,” he said.

"They're seven of us shortlisted for the Russia 2018 World Cup, I’m very optimistic to make the list."

He says he sets targets in his life and follows them step by step.

Sikazwe spoke about his memorable moments in his career as a referee, which he traces way back from his days as a young adult in 1999.

"One of them was when I did the Under-17 World Cup in 2015 which was between Belgium and Mexico and of course the [Real Madrid] World Club Cup and that led to the 2017 Afcon finals. So for me, that's steady progress. I want to take one step at a time."

Career and life

Asked how he handled the pressure and other challenges that come with his career and life, Sikazwe says: "I have challenges, but I usually seek to remain calm and sort the problem one by one and still maintain focus on my targets."

In respect to controversial refereeing decisions, Sikazwe says: "If am right, I always stick to my guns. Whatever [critical] comments people make about me, I choose to take those as a blessing for me and I still push forward."

Sikazwe says he has a big heart and his wish is to accommodate everyone and their divergent views.

His biggest ambition is to officiate the Fifa World Cup final.

Physical fitness

He told the Africareview he takes his physical fitness seriously.

"My physical training gets strenuous depending on the size of the match or tournament. Right now [in Lusaka], I'm helping my colleague from Botswana do his training ahead of duties even if mine is not due any time soon."

Physical fitness is a top priority for me, he says.

Sikazwe feels African referees were ripe to handle such big tournaments as the World Cup.

"Africa is getting there, to the apex; our standards are of international levels. The future of Africa is bright."

A proud owner

The married father of three [two sons and one girl] loves his nshima [maize meal bread] and sardines, locally called kapenta.

Reading from pictures splashed on Facebook, Sikazwe is a normal "boy who loves his toys".

The Fifa referee is a proud owner of an impressive fleet of cars parked at his residence.

The ever smiling, lanky sportsman is usually mobbed for selfies by his fans whenever he appears in a public.