No such thing as retirement

Officials talking
Author:  Glenn Doney, State-level Cycling Commissaire, Sports Consultant, Coaching and Officiating unit, Australian Sports Commission
Issue: Volume 5 Number 1

While working as an official two weeks ago, I had a chance to listen to several senior officials discussing the topic of retiring from officiating in sport.  They suggested that most officials have no desire to leave the sport they embrace even though they have many reasons for departing.  Some of the reasons they identified for officials leaving sport were medical conditions or prevailing injuries that would prevent them from fulfilling their duties at a national or international level.  Others have increased time commitments from work and/or family, or changed financial situations.  Finally, many officials have age restrictions placed upon them by either national or international bodies and so feel they would be forced into retirement.

For the next few hours I pondered the future of these hard working officials and wondered what provisions sport offers as an alternative to retiring completely.  Surely with the skills and knowledge that each individual possessed, there should be several areas for an official to transfer their wealth of experience.  Several options came to mind, including mentoring another official, coaching or training a group of officials, presenting educational courses, officiating at a lower level (for example, state or club level), becoming part of a technical commission at state or national level, or even becoming involved in talent identification of younger officials.

The mentoring process could involve working alongside a less-experienced official and passing on skills and knowledge utilising a one-to-one format.  Alternatively, working with a group rather than individuals would provide the experienced official with the opportunity to sow a seed with many officials and watch them grow.  Presenting educational courses to upcoming officials is a great opportunity for those that are time-poor and can only contribute, perhaps one or two hours on a quarterly basis. Officials could return to where it all began by supporting their local club and again passing on valuable knowledge to less experienced officials.

Becoming part of a technical commission would allow input into policy and procedures and so prevent many of the problems that may have arisen during the official’s career. 

Finally, the ‘retiring’ official may not be time-poor and so can visit the local sports grounds looking for those rare individuals that possess the special qualities that would allow them to become a national or even international official.

I am sure you could add to the above list through your own officiating experiences and so provide even greater opportunities for those officials who will always remain part of sport.  So when you feel 'forced into retirement', make the transition to the next level of officiating and remain part of a sport that you love and enjoy.

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