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International Women's Day 2019 - UK Athletics

Category: International Women's day, UK Athletics, Woman in athletics

Red background, with white text spelling Gender Focus

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2019: THE OFFICIALS' LINE 

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March every year and is a focal point in the movement of women’s rights.  This year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. 

Athletics prides itself on being a gender balanced sport and our officials play a major part in achieving this, where currently there are 59% male and 41% female officials in the UK. In support of International Women’s Day 2019, throughout March, we will feature Officials across the UK to celebrate them and their commitment to athletics.  

Sue Smith is from Hertfordshire

What is your role as an official?
I am a Level 4 Field Official and a Level 2 Track Official.

How long have you been officiating?
Since 2004 - 15 years.

What inspired you to become an official?
I was travelling around with my children and started judging at grassroots level with the club

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
I would absolutely and strongly encourage it. I find it very rewarding and have made some amazing friends who have become family to me.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Judging at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games 2012.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterforBalance in officiating?
Maybe by organising and all female mentoring / competition day where we could all get together judge / talk and then maybe socialise afterwards. 

Kathy Ertug from Leicestershire 

What is your role as an official?

I am a Level 1 track judge and sometimes take part as ancillary officialHow long have you been officiating?

Less than 2 years.

What inspired you to become an official?
Volunteering is a good way of giving back. My grandson is a para athlete in long jump discipline; during his trainings, instead of watching him, I offered to help scraping the sand pit to give coaches more time to talk to their athletes. One of the clubs we went to in Hertfordshire actively encouraged parents and grandparents to get involved, and also organised regular health & safety classes for us to attend.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
The backbone of future success of competitions are the next generation of young officials. They can learn fast, have had some knowledge about athletics during their education, good eyesight, fast reaction time, better fitness level than most of us who are retirees.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
In my level, almost every competition enables me to learn something new, working with my peers would have counted as the highlight of my officiating career so far.

Margaret Baird from Dunfermline, Scotland

What is your role as an official?
I am an Athletics Track Judge, Level 4.

How long have you been officiating?
I have been officiating for eleven years.

What inspired you to become an official?
I got involved as I had been ill, and my husband suggested I do something "just for me". I had been a hurdler in my early years, and my nephew was competing in triple jump. My brother-in-law suggested I "come along and see what goes on." I have been coming along to see what happens ever since.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
It's a great hobby, you learn something new every time you are officiating, there is a wonderful community of officials from all walks of life wishing to do their best for athletes. There is a care system in place to support new officials, nobody is forced to progress passed their own choice of Level and it is something you can do for as long as you wish.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
The absolute highlight of my career was to be a Track Official at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
I think as a sport to achieve #BalanceforBetter Officiating, encouragement to meet with other officials in different cities always lets someone see the good and bad points of what we are used to at "home". Listen and be open to new ideas.

Christine Oldfield from Nottingham

What is your role as an official?
I have Level 4 track, Level 3 Field, Level 2 Starter’s assistant and Timekeeper and Level 1 Photo-finish. I also have an Australian Athletics Grade A (top grade) track certificate. At 74, I now limit myself to officiating at local events (Nottingham) working on the track or field, wherever I can be most useful.

How long have you been officiating?
13 years. Until 2016 I regularly officiated the summer seasons in both Perth Australia and here, all around the UK

What inspired you to become an official?
I joined Masters Athletics Western Australia and did Sunday social runs. I was then persuaded (at 60) to try the track meets they provided twice a week. They expected runners to volunteer to judge and time keep each week and it was brought home to me how essential these tasks were. When I showed interest, another member suggested I take it further and volunteer for the ‘open’ weekly meetings in Perth. I was not a natural athlete but found I was good at officiating – both track and field - and really enjoyed learning about all the different disciplines and finding out how it all worked. It was also a great motivating experience to work with top class athletes (eg Steve Hooker trained and competed at our facility in Perth.)

After getting some qualifications (written exams plus practical reports) I registered my interest with UKA and was assigned to Level 2 and worked up from there, first on the track, then the field.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
Be prepared to work hard and gain qualifications. You will achieve great enjoyment and satisfaction from the work that you do. Don’t ignore local grass roots meetings but aspire to officiate at top class meetings. The world is your oyster.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Officiating at the World Masters Athletics T&F Championships in Puerto Alegre, Brazil in 2013. I was appointed to represent the UK and Australia on the International team of officials

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Registered running or athletics clubs should be encouraged to ask their members to think about becoming officials. Clubs have far more female members these days. Whether they have joined in order to improve their running or athletic careers or for health and social reasons, many may have other skills to offer. You can take up officiating without previous qualifications or knowledge of track and field events. I never imagined when I started out that I would ever be a track referee or clerk of course, or lead a hammer or pole vault event. But everything is possible.

Hannah Wilson from Hampshire

What is your role as an official?
I am a Track Judge.

How long have you been officiating?
8 Years.

What inspired you to become an official?
My club needed more officials.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
It's great fun and looks good on your CV too.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Seeing some international athletes at open meets and UKWAL matches and volunteering at the London 2017 World Championships.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Encourage people from all ages and backgrounds to get involved.

Sylvia Philps

What is your role as an official?
I am a Level 2 timekeeper, Level 1 field official and Level 1 endurance official.

How long have you been officiating?
I have been officiating for approx. 7 years.

What inspired you to become an official?
I wasn't originally inspired, I just started timekeeping to help out the club where my daughter was a member, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, everyone was so helpful and I found I was helping the club while enjoying myself. I have just started officiating at large endurance events and up to now am finding it enjoyable and meeting lovely people.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
Officiating has such great opportunities for future development (working up to international events) very varied, meet lovely people who are very supportive of new officials and not be scared.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
My highlight was timekeeping at the Special Olympics National games in Sheffield in 2017.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
I would say in promotional material show young people predominantly women. Most officials are retired so when people see them they can easily assume it is for older people and so not likely to attract younger women. Have something along the lines as 'this girl can' as women can definitely officiate, perhaps we women officials should be more involved promoting women.

Could Officials be promoted more at the beginning of large events. I know that we have low profile so on TV officials are hardly seen, so people don't see how many we need. 

Emma Nicol

What is your role as an official?
I'm a Level 3 Field Official

How long have you been officiating?
I started officiating in 2016, so fairly recently.

What inspired you to become an official?
I'm aware that my route into officiating is an unusual one. I'm not a parent, coach, teacher, community group leader or ex-athlete. I simply always enjoyed watching and following athletics and on a visit to watch a Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in the summer of 2016 I saw the British Athletics Officials stand and went over to enquire how I could get involved. It went from there. I thought I'd be a track official but after investigating all of the different types of official roles, I became a Field Judge, which was unexpected. I had recently moved to the Midlands (end of 2015), moving up from the South Coast and it was a great way to get to know the area and meet new people.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
It can seem daunting from the outside at first. There are many people who have been officiating for many years, but the officiating community is made up of really passionate people of all ages willing to share their experiences and expertise. It's a place where you can build new experiences and knowledge, expand your skills in communication, confidence and organisation and meet some like-minded people. The variety of roles, locations and types of competition is very broad and so it's far from dull!

In my short officials' career, I've learnt that an official can make such a huge difference to the athlete's experience and if you like athletics there's no better way to get a front row seat.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
As still a relative newbie, my highlights are many. The sheer variety of roles I've been involved in are always a highlight. From organising nervous and distracted athletes in a call room setting to the fast and furious updates of a scoreboard by the side of a high jump competition for the announcer and audience to keep up to date, to supervising a runway of a long jump competition to make sure safety is upheld as some of the athletes can pick up quite a speed.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
In officiating there are no roles that are gender specific and the more we can show that this is the case the more we can address any imbalance. Starter, Technical Manager, Clerk of Course are all roles that can be seen potentially as largely populated by male officials, but I have met some amazing women in some of these roles. Teamwork is the overall key in officiating and it is a wonderful thing to be part of.

Tatyanna Antoine 

What is your role as an official?
I am a field official.

How long have you been officiating?
1 year.

What inspired you to become an official?
I wanted to give something back to the sport that my daughter was involved in and getting so much from. 

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
it's a brilliant opportunity to see the sport from the other side. It also offers an appreciation of what goes into enabling the competitions to take place.  

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
I really enjoy officiating with the younger age groups as they are full of enthusiasm. It is also very rewarding to see the athletes getting on and supporting each other especially when things sometimes go wrong. 

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
I've only officiated at club level for the lower age groups and there seems to be a good balance there. It does help that lunch is provided and other benefits such as money off subscriptions/ tickets to events. 

If you want to get involved in officiating, find out more information here

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