Referee Camille ready for maiden Can appearance-29th African Cup of Nations


Camille going through a routine training session on Thursday (photo G. G.)

The 29th Can is slated for South Africa from January 19 to February 10 with 16 of Africa’s best teams fighting out for the trophy won by surprise team Zambia for the first time on a penalty shootout – 8-7 – against favourites Ivory Coast, boasting star players like Didier Drogba, Kolo Touré, Yaya Touré and Gervinho, in last year’s final.

“Officiating at the Can is something big and I want to make the most of this opportunity,” Camille told Sports Nation at the end of an early morning training session at Stad Linite on Thursday.

Camille, 37, said although he wanted to be in South Africa for the competition, he did not expect it would be a reality as he has been a Fédération internationale de Football Association (Fifa) referee for only two years.

It seems the Diguois has been going too far a little too fast, but he has big dreams.

“This is my third year as a Fifa referee and what I’ve been achieving is probably due to my good showing in the eight international matches I took charge of last year and during the Caf (Confederation of African Football) Elite Referees Fitness test held in Cairo, Egypt in November last year,” said twice referee of the year Camille.

The burly referee said he is happy with his rapid progress after only becoming a Fifa referee in 2011 when he took charge of only one international match and was the fourth official in seven others refereed by fellow Seychellois Eddie Maillet who reached the Fifa age limit of 45 on October 19, 2012.

Among the eight international games Camille refereed last year was the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier between the Central African Republic and Botswana won by the former on a 2-0 score.

To be ready for the biggest football competition on the African continent, Camille has been following daily training sessions on his own and sometimes with assistant referee Gilbert Lista.

 He has dropped 5 kilogrammes to be at the required 80kg weight category for the tournament.

“It’s a lot of sacrifices. I trained on Christmas Day and even on New Year’s Day because I want to be in top form physically and morally for the Can.

 Although it will be another learning experience for me, I’ll be going to South Africa with the aim of giving my very best.

 I’ll be happy if I’m asked to take charge of at least one match as refereeing at the Can is like taking part in a knockout competition with the losers being eliminated as the tournament progresses,” noted the Diguois.

“I must admit it is not easy for a referee to be called up for a Can with only two years experience as a Fifa referee. I believe this is thanks to my good physical conditioning which helps improve my sharpness in making quick decisions on the field.

“I also have to thank Eddie Maillet for always believing in me and pushing me all the way. He always told me to persevere and to train hard. We even trained together in preparation for the Caf Elite Referees Fitness test in Cairo.

 Even after taking up his new post at the Caf headquarters in Cairo, he continued giving me advice. He is my inspiration and I will always thank him for all he has done and is still doing for me,” added Camille who added that he hopes the Can will open new doors for him.

“I want to do well in the Can as a good showing will surely open new doors for me. My objective is to be at the World Cup.

 The 2014 World Cup in Brazil might be too close, but I’ll work hard to be at the 2018 World Cup.

 I’ll be 43 at the time and would surely be at the height of my officiating career,” noted Camille.

The third Seychellois to be selected by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to officiate at the Can, Camille will leave for South Africa on Sunday January 13 and will join other referees and assistant referees for another course prior to the start of the competition on Saturday January 19.
Eddie Maillet and Jason Damoo are the other two local officials who have had the chance to officiate at the prestigious biennial tournament.

While assistant referee Damoo got his first call-up last year, Maillet made five Can appearances in a row – 2004 in Tunisia, 2006 in Egypt, 2008 in Ghana, 2010 in Angola, and 2012 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

G. G.

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