Moseya has his sights set on World Cup

WHEN Arnold Moseya, in his youth, decided to swap bouncing a basketball for the high-pressure job of being a referee, it was the perfect choice as the doors of the world would later open and lead to him officiating on some of the biggest stages.

Moseya, who began officiating in 2004, reflected on how a turn of events during a high school tournament in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, fortuitously led to him picking up the whistle.

“Interesting story. During my time in high school, I was not a great player, although I made it to the first team. Anyway, there was a tournament where each team had to come with a referee. My high school didn’t bring one. So, I had to jump in, and that’s where my journey began,” said Moseya, who attended Carter High School in Pietermaritzburg.

“Surprisingly, I also refereed in the final of that tournament. From there, my interest grew, and when I started varsity, I continued officiating games.”

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Arnold Moseya officiating at the Elite 16 Division East tournament in Johannesburg. Pictures: The BTO

Since those early days, Moseya, who received his FIBA accreditation in 2011, has grown in stature. While officiating games in the South African circuit, he lauded the role played by well known South African basketball officials like Charles Saunders and Charles Forster for moulding and setting him on his present trajectory.

“South Africa had some top officials back in the day. I think we had about four internationally recognised referees. So, there was always leadership at that level. The likes of Charles Saunders and Charles Forster helped guide me to where I am now,” said Moseya.

The 34-year-old has travelled the world and officiated at major FIBA competitions. While it may look exciting from the outside, he highlighted certain challenges that he has had to navigate.

“The difficult part is travelling for competitions. This summer there have been a lot of competitions. The Basketball Africa League (BAL), World Cup qualifiers, the youth World Cup and right now, the BAL qualifiers are taking place,” said Moseya, who also works for alcohol beverage company Distel.

“It’s hard trying to balance that out with family and a full-time job. You have to get time off from work and discuss who takes my child to school because you will be away for two weeks. Between 2019 and now, I have been away for close to 90 days. So, it can be a tough schedule.”

Yes, the job does come with some personal sacrifices, but there are also perks and enriching experiences. While on international assignments, Moseya has struck up new friendships and learnt about different cultures. And luckily most of his travel expenses are covered by tournament organisers.

“There are things I enjoy about the job. You get to travel for free. Imagine travelling the whole world and not paying a cent. I have visited many countries and experienced different cultures. It is something I have come to appreciate and respect,” said Moseya. “I have made many friends from all over the world. That has been an absolute joy for me. The people you meet and the places you get to visit. It’s hard to quantify something like that.”

Reflecting on some of the tournaments he has officiated in, Moseya expressed gratitude for the opportunity to call games on the continental and world stage. While he has some big competitions under his belt, there are two other major tournaments that he has sights set on.

“I have had the privilege and honour of refereeing the Paralympics in Rio and Wheelchair World Cup in Germany. I recently officiated at the Under Nineteen World Cup in Latvia. On the continent (Africa), I officiated at the BAL tournament (Rwanda) and AfroBasket,” said Moseya, an alumnus of the Durban University of Technology.

“It’s been an amazing journey so far, one which I do not have the words to describe. There are other tournaments that I would like to be a part of in the future: the FIBA World Cup and Olympic Games. That would be awesome.”


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When he is not ensuring that players are on their best behaviour on the court, Moseya engages in basketball literature and views footage from previous games as a way of improving as an official.

“It requires a lot of work. You have to read the rulebook and spend hours watching games. You guys probably watch games for the slam dunks and three-point shooting. I watch games from a technical viewpoint,” said Moseya. “I have to check if the player is dribbling the right way, has a player screened correctly, and when a team calls a certain play, how will it impact the game? So it’s putting in hours of viewing footage and educating myself.”

There is also a fitness aspect that Moseya addressed. He pointed out match officials like players have to maintain their fitness levels to keep up with the play on the court.

“You have to take of your body. I go to the gym almost every day. You have to look like an athlete and think like one as well. A referee is an athlete. For example, when a player runs a fast break, guess what? You have to keep up. So it’s important to stay in shape,” said Moseya.

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Arnold Moseya at the regional qualifiers.

Also part and parcel of the job is managing difficult players during games, something Moseya is well versed. He points out that big-name individuals can be tricky to manage because of the status they enjoy in the game.

“There are a lot of difficult players. Every team has one. The star players can be difficult because they are famous and everyone has come to watch them. When they feel the referee has made the incorrect decision, it can be a tricky situation,” said Moseya. “It would be unfair to point out a specific player. If you do your job well as a referee, they will respect you.”

In his decade as an official, Moseya feels the job has helped to develop him into a well-rounded individual.

“I think refereeing has taught me a lot of things. It has taught me how to be calm, relaxed and analyse situations. Analysis especially! Officiating has taught me how to weigh situations better. Because of that, I am a better person,” concluded Moseya.

*This interview was conducted during the Elite 16 Division East qualifiers held in Johannesburg in December.

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