In my capacity as a parent of an athlete (and an athlete myself), I really appreciate the fact so many other people I don’t know are happy to offer their time to allow my son James and I to compete and enjoy competitive athletics. Without those people willing to help time an event, rake a pit or measure a throw, there would be no athletics. Over the years, I’ve helped do some of those roles to ensure competitions can happen. Normally, that’s meant Lester leading a small team of parents around the long jump and triple jump competition.
Over the last couple of seasons, I’ve started helping as part of that small team from time to time. I’ve had a go at raking pits, calling up athletes and measuring where a javelin has landed. It’s been great fun and I’m pleased that I’ve helped make it possible for these competitions to take place. As I thought more about what I was doing and why, I decided it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could make it official and become an athletics official.
For me, the obvious next step was to search the internet and see what was involved. I was expecting there to be lots of studying the rule books and learning sub-paragraphs and appendices of rules to be able to make sure everything goes smoothly in a match. Would I be up late at night trying to cram all this information into my head and would I be able to recall it at a moments notice?
The reality was somewhat different. The road to becoming an official is far less daunting. In fact, I found it to be far easier than I could have hoped. To become a level 1 official (it goes up to level 4 if you want to be able to help at national and international competitions), you need to do a training course and help in four different events. Over the last season, I was at 3 U15 matches with my son and helped in some long jump competitions and a javelin competition. I also popped along to Crawley to help at some U13 competitions where I helped judge the shot put and the high jump. Instantly, I’d evidence of the judging I’d done and one online virtual training session later, I was able to submit my achievements and a couple of days later, I’m a qualified (field judge) official!!
If being a field judge isn’t your thing, there are other roles you can do. Other opportunities are available for timekeepers, starters or helping judge the track events (I’ve already signed up to have a go at being a track judge too!) and offer different ways to support athletics. In fact, over the last few years, clubs can get extra points if they have qualified officials able to help at matches as recognition of the value officials have in the sport.
Alongside Lester and Sarah, East Grinstead now has a third qualified official. Hopefully, others will see how easy it is to take the same journey and join our merry band and help sustain the club and our sport. If you would like to find out more, feel free to talk to anyone in the club or follow the link here https://www.englandathletics.org/officiating/officiating-journey/.