Yes, she may be well known through music, dancing and performing but that doesn’t make Pabi Cooper forgets what she initially wanted to become which is being a South Africa’s youngest football referee. Getting to know her deeper, you find out that she was once a goalkeeper and that tells you that her love for the game is undeniable.
Born and bred in Soshanguve, her grandmother introduced her to football and the passion would just grow until she discovered the love of being a referee later in her life. Actually, she never just dreamt it and sat back, it appears that Cooper attained a certificate of being a qualified referee. However, with the pandemic hitting the football industry hard, the multitalented Cooper had to utilize her musical talent to get her name known out there.
“Fame for me wasn’t the plan. I mean, I only released my first song Isphithiphithi in August last year, so being known like this feels unreal but I am grateful. I’m from Soshanguve, north of Pretoria. It’s a known fact that people where I come from don’t usually make it in life – it’s either you fall pregnant quite young or become a junkie,” she said as per Sowetan Live.
“I remember being told that I wouldn’t amount to anything because of how I used to conduct myself when I was 15. I’d often go out with my friend, not focusing enough on my school books… actually at that time, I thought I knew everything. I thought I was cool. Luckily I had a turning point in my life when I found my love for soccer two years later by being a goalkeeper.”
Cooper revealed that in High school, she was part of the choir and although she knew that she had talent in singing, she would still choose to sacrifice choir practice for soccer referee lessons. “I come from a family of soccer fans, so that to me was more exciting than singing.
“My grandmother supports Kaizer Chiefs and I support Orlando Pirates. We used to watch soccer on Saturdays and she would teach me what an offsite meant and the rules of the game. Soccer has been my outlet since I was young,” says the 21-year-old.
“But now that I am in the music industry, I am working on ways of how to incorporate me being a professional referee into my music. I mean, I sometimes dress like a referee when I perform and in my music videos.”