Kenya's Dr Peter Waweru Kamaku is among 12 referees set to officiate at the 21st edition of the Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Niger from February 2 to 17.
Waweru, who was elevated to Fifa referee in March 2017, is a lecturer of Pure and Applied Mathematics at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
This is the first biggest tournament for the whistle-blower, who has previously handled both Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup matches, as well as Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers and several international friendly matches.
He has also officiated several matches in domestic competitions.
“I am very grateful and happy for the opportunity to preside over the U-20 Afcon tournament.
“It is my first huge tournament and it is an honour to be part of the 12 referees picked from across Africa,” said Kamaku, whose last high profile assignment was the Caf Confederation Cup playoff first leg match pitting Libyan side Ahli Benghazi and Nasr Athletic Hussein Dey of Algeria in Tunisia, on January 11.
In that match, he officiated alongside compatriots Tony Kidiya, also a teacher by profession based in Vihiga and Gilbert Cheruiyot from Eldama Ravine.
The Algerian outfit lost 1-0, but progressed to the group stage 3-2 on aggregate, where they’ve been pooled in Group “D” together with Gor Mahia, Zamalek of Egypt and Petro Atletico of Angola.
Waweru believes that the international experience gained from the Caf Champions league matches honed his skills and made it possible for the call-up by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to oversee the continental junior tournament.
The top four teams at the eight-team tourney will qualify for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup to be staged in Poland later this year.
“I am optimistic the experience gained from Afcon will propel me to the global level,” quipped Dr Kamaku.
Kenya was eliminated from this biennial championship by Rwanda in the preliminary round. Qualified teams include Burundi, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and the hosts.
With two hats on his head, the don is taking both in his stride.
“I am glad I can use refereeing to decompress from lecturing and vice versa,” elucidated Dr Kamaku, who played for the JKUAT football team, while also doubling up as the student leader-in-charge of sports in 2005.
Interestingly, Dr Kamaku was not the most talented player, but his passion for football was still simmering.
To keep abreast with football, he joined Mathare Youth Sports Association (Mysa) and undertook a basic refereeing course in 2009.
Five years later, he was voted the best referee during the Kenyan Premier League end of season award ceremony in 2014, a feat coveted by many referees in the country.
With the call up, Dr Kamaku’s dream of competing with the best in the world and officiating a world cup match is alive.
“It has not been an easy journey. My first Premier League game in 2013 between AFC Leopards and Chemelil Sugar was marked with hooliganism but at the end of it all, I smile and beam with joy when I look back at how far I have come,” he concludes.