My call: Officiating ...who is key?

Officials shaking hands
Author:  Tony Wynd, Manager, Coaching and Officiating Unit, Australian Sports Commission
Issue: Volume 6 Number 1

Have you ever considered who is looking after you in your officiating role? Who is the key person in your association driving officiating?

The role of officials’ coordinator is critical to the smooth operation of all sporting competitions.  It can involve everything from match cards to mop ups and if it includes recruitment and retention of officials as well, then such a role will be even less attractive.  Little wonder few people want to take it on.

So what is the key to encouraging individuals into the role?  An organisation can offer training, education, professional and technical development, conflict resolution training and mentoring.  What level of support is offered by your organisation?  Is it left to one person to do everything?  As an official, ask yourself what would it take for you to take on such a role?

Research has told us time and again that abuse of officials is one of the main reasons people don’t continue in an officiating role.  However, this is only one of many issues for an officials’ coordinator.  Take for example a basketball competition. A game would normally require two referees and up to three scorers.  If the competition was played from 6.00pm until 11.00pm (seven games) it would require up to 35 officials and that is for one court on one night.  Add to the mix, deliberations of which officials are competent for which games, and who can be there for the whole night.  Now do the sums for multiple courts - the task becomes a major logistical nightmare.  At this point it doesn’t need a genius to work out that very few people would be interested or have the time to do the job.  Now consider that a volunteer may be doing it.  So are we helping them enough?  Probably not.

Every person involved in sport whether as a player, coach, administrator or official, plays a role in retention of sports officials, but making it easier (for the officials’ coordinator) could well be the most important piece of the puzzle.  We do not need any more research to tell us that if the officials’ coordinator has time to help new officials and mentor existing ones, everyone in the sport benefits.  One of the key factors, though, is to help the coordinator by giving them more time.

Now, can you think of anything that would help make life easier for the coordinator in your association?

Some of the more obvious, yet understated, roles might include providing some administrative support, promptly communicating any issues to the officials’ coordinator, completing all of your own duties and ensuring that the job the officials’ coordinator does is recognised and appreciated.

At the end of the day (or night) a simple 'Thanks' may be enough.

So to the officials’ coordinators out there, thanks for making our sporting experience a good one.

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