Abreu Muhimua has officiated Olympic games and kept a watchful eye on NBA stars like Dirk Norwitzki and Pau Gasol. But last week, the Mozambican called fouls for a group of players with a much lower …
Abreu Muhimua has officiated Olympic games and kept a watchful eye on NBA stars like Dirk Norwitzki and Pau Gasol. But last week, the Mozambican called fouls for a group of players with a much lower profile — helping referee a fifth- and sixth-grade girls game at Powell Middle School.
Muhimua retired from professional officiating in 2015 and he’s now the CEO of an engineering and construction management company. He was in the Powell area last week to explore possible business partnerships between Mozambique and Wyoming. It was a short, three-day trip, but Scott Hecht of Wyoming Completion Technologies — who helped arrange the visit — encouraged Muhimua to squeeze in some officiating. Hecht’s granddaughter, AshLyn, happened to be playing in a Powell Recreation District game on the night of Thursday, Nov. 21, and Muhimua quickly agreed to don the black and white stripes again for the contest.
“Basketball is my passion and I still love basketball,” he said, adding, “When Scott [Hecht] spoke to me about his kids, I said, ‘With pleasure.’”
And so, last week’s game featured some world-class officiating, as Muhimua helped referee the Hot Shotz’s win over the Ballers; at Hecht’s suggestion, the two regularly scheduled referees had Muhimua join them to form a three-man crew, equipping him with a jersey and a whistle.
“It seems like they all had a lot of fun,” Hecht said, adding with a laugh that, “If he can ref the Olympics, then he’s good enough to ref the 10-year-old girls basketball, too, I figure.”
Muhimua started officiating back in 1984, in Mozambique’s northeastern Nampula Province.
He moved to Czechoslovakia in 1991 and moved up the officiating ladder, working a variety of professional basketball games in Europe under the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
He went back to Mozambique in 1999 and officiated major competitions across Africa, including Olympic and FIBA World Championship qualifiers.
Then, in the summer of 2004, Muhimua got the rare opportunity to work as an official at the Olympics in Athens, Greece. That was followed by working the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Although he continues to serve as a technical delegate for FIBA, the veteran hung up his whistle in 2015. Only on rare occasions does Muhimua officiate now — though he’s made some exceptions for events involving children, such as Thursday’s rec league game.
“Today I was like, ‘Oh man, let me [test] myself,’” he laughed after finishing up the contest.
Muhimua also praised Powell Rec’s youth basketball program, saying it offers kids a good start in the sport.
“Being part of this is really remarkable,” he said, “because these kids, you’re bringing [up] future Olympians.”