Not everyday you'll see a match official being interviewed or asked his opinion on so and so. However, one Constant Cap is an interesting character in Kenya.
Cap has officiated more than 100 Kenya Cup matches to become one of the most experienced match officials in Kenya. From School games, Prescott Cup, University games, Kenya Cup to international matches, Cap has seen it all.
He once told a player "this is not a soccer field, you can go to Ligi Ndogo" during a televised Kenya Cup game at RFUEA.
Welcome to today's match:
Cap, an Urban planner, started refereeing in 2003 after "an introduction to the society by one of the top refs then Mr.Caleb Wesonga. At the time most refs were retired players so people found it a bit odd for someone to get into refereeing at an early age, but now it has become the norm in most places."
Cap is a guy of Strathmore where he fell in love with rugby. "I was lucky to be introduced to the game at an early age, in lower primary school. We had a teacher who had played for Uruguay and he introduced us to the game. As we grew up, we would also look up to Secondary school team."
"Rugby in School was always fun though demanding. We played in both Damu Pevu and Prescott and were coached by David Dimba and Fred Ollows who both played for Impala and taught at Strathmore. We won a few and lost a few."
"The academic competition was serious, one also had to train with the team and on their own. Additionally, there were many easy distractions after school and over weekends that one had to fight. These self-discipline lessons have come to help later in life."
Cap's first game as a referee was an Eric Shirley Shield (ESS) encounter between "I think Nazarene vs Impala II". His first Kenya Cup was in 2008 between Mean Machine and Strathmore Leos while his full international was Morocco taking on Cameroon in 2009.
"The journey has been fun and very rewarding. I have made many friends among referees, players, coaches, fans, and others. I have also learnt how to handle certain levels of pressure, how to accept other people’s opinions on various matters as well as take criticism positively. I have been to about 10 African countries to officiate as well as to Europe and Asia. I have done over 100 Kenya Cup matches including two finals."
The Strathmore School alumnus has no idea on when he will retire though "we senior refs have left 7s to be done by the younger fellows as it is a good opportunity for them to grow in confidence and accuracy."
As a Rugby referee Cap has heard and seen a lot inside and outside the pitch but the funniest he told a player was: "we can discuss that in the bar -I think player had asked for a break because he was ‘tired".
Well, his time came too: "During a pre-match, two captains told me separately that their opponents wanted to fight!"
Despite being one of the most experienced match officials in Kenya, Cap admits nothing beats a good Kenya Cup match but he finds time to do school matches. "One has to admit that school matches are nice because of the passion that the players put into the game, even under 13s."
Cap, who finds it hard to pick his best ever game as a ref, says: "There have been many good ones – some where you don’t even know who is leading until you count the score sheet after. Ngong Road Derbies are always memorable, there was also a good ones between Uganda Select vs Kabras a few years ago as well as the Kenya Cup semi between Kabras and Mwamba last year."
In some occasions players or coaches will follow a ref after the game to question certain decisions or a card, a thing Cap likes.
"We encourage refs, coaches, and players to discuss the game after the showers. Many times, these discussions are eye opening to both refs and coaches."
Cap feels a lot can be done to improve the officiating wing of Kenya Rugby Union."We need to become more scientific in our analysis of refs and teams. We must use to the data and not base our views on match officials on opinions. This obviously requires investment and the necessary infrastructure. We also need a clear pathway (this being worked on) so that someone knows where and how he will grow as a ref."