Editorial - National officiating initiatives

Basketball officail in action
Author:  Tony Wynd, Manager, Coaching and Officiating unit, Australian Sports Commission
Issue: Volume 4 Number 2

Officiating has been around as long as sport. Human nature decrees that there will always be disputes that require adjudication or external mediation. This has created a complete and complementary section of sport that is Officiating. Until fairly recently if you asked the average person on the street, they probably wouldn’t have even considered the officials as part of the sport.

These days, thanks to the likes of rugby league referee Bill Harrigan and cricket umpire Billy Bowden, and initiatives such as the 2003 Year of the Official, officiating is achieving a higher, and more positive, public profile. People can probably name the top officials in their chosen sport and they will certainly have an opinion about their prowess. But more work is required before all involved in sport recognise officials as an essential part of sport and develop an inclusive attitude towards them.

The Australian Sports Commission has long been aware of the need to assist officials to be the best they can in their chosen field. To this end, the Australian Sports Commission established the National Officiating Program in 1994. This has now evolved into the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme. However the basic philosophy remains the same – making available a structured system that provides training support, networking opportunities and information dissemination.

Through a consistent approach, the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme assists national sporting organisations to develop competent officials with a level of qualification commensurate with officials operating at similar levels in other sports throughout Australia, while maintaining a sport-specific focus. The National Officiating Accreditation Scheme has also assisted national sporting organisations to adopt a competency-based approach to officials’ training. Not only does this contribute to the development of competent officials, but it dovetails into the risk management strategies that all national sporting organisations are commonly implementing nowadays.

The benefits of participation in the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme are many and varied for both national sporting organisations and individual officials, but can be categorised under a few main headings:

  • Quality control through consistency in training – national sporting organisations can receive assistance with development of improved training programs which, in turn, leads to better standards of officiating. This can be crucial to raising the standards of the sport and the enjoyment level of all those involved;
  • Networking opportunities – a structured system where officials achieve a level of qualification allows them to exchange information with others operating at that level and also to identify potential mentors with more experience or greater knowledge.  The National Officiating Accreditation Scheme also makes it easier for NSOs to network with other national sporting organisations to share ideas on initiatives and training requirements;
  • Distribution of information - both within sports and through publications such as this newsletter; and
  • Access to development initiatives such as the National Officiating Scholarship Program - which is only available to members of sports registered with the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme.

As a member of the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme you are reaping all of these benefits. If you have friends who are officiating in sports that are not part of the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme you can feel that you have an advantage over them, but why not encourage them to lobby their sports to join the Scheme.  Then they and their sports can enjoy the benefits of a better officiating environment, that will lead to an improved sporting experience for all.

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