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Investing in an Officiating Legacy

Sue Campbell at the UKA Officials Conference
10 April 2011

The 8th UKA Officials Conference kicked off at the St John’s Hotel in Solihull with over 300 delegates in attendance, with the overarching theme of this year’s conference being legacy and the officiating landscape of the athletics world beyond the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Fittingly, the keynote session was delivered by UK Sport Chair Baroness Sue Campbell.

In her address, Baroness Sue Campbell said;

“UKA is held in such high regard, both domestically and internationally because of the strength of its volunteers”

“You are great role models for the sport, not only because you are passionate about your sport, but because you give up your time to support the aspirations of others, of younger generations. Part of your legacy is what you do, but the other part of your legacy is what you will leave behind.”

“2012 will ignite something. 2012 is not an end, it is a beginning for the future of British Sport”

“Building the future is very much in your own hands. Research and innovation is in each and every one of you, it’s called creativity.”

“This year, we have over 100,000 16-19 year olds wanting to volunteer in sport. No one knows how to develop the officials of tomorrow like you; it is up to you to grab them while they are enthusiastic.”

Highlighting the significant investment into the officiating community by UKA were members of the UKA Technical Advisory Group.  Malcolm Rogers, the UKA Technical Advisory Group Chairman, pointed out the successful exchange programme for officials that is now into its fourth year, as well as endorsements that the officials education materials had received, not only from the IAAF by other IAAF National Governing Bodies and SkillsActive, all part of the £1.2m that has been invested by UKA in recent years to develop, recruit and retain officials.

Also highlighted was the continued development of the trinity database as a resource for the sport, with access to the database for county officials’ secretaries and more recently officials themselves to update their own details and manage their own portals.

With the scene set, delegates split into a number of discussion groups to consider several key topics branching out from the conference theme of legacy, including creative ideas for recruitment, reward and recognition ideas and best practice from competition providers.

This year’s UKA Officials Conference saw the 2nd annual official’s awards, nominated by officials for officials. Four categories were nominated at this year’s awards, with the winners as follows;

The Official’s Official – Shona Malcolm

Endurance Official – John How

Young Official – Calum Piper

Innovative Official – Chris Cohen CBE

Seven months on from the first hosting of the Commonwealth Games in the Indian subcontinent, Chris Cohen and Alan Bell reflected on a challenging but enjoyable experience during the athletics competition in Delhi. The UKA Technical Advisory Group members talked about the lessons that could be learnt from the event and the key to being prepared for what a major event can entail, as well as remarkable atmosphere, interest and excitement that host nation success can generate.    

With the recent setup of UKA’s Youth Advisory Group and the work towards setting up the UKA Recruitment and Retention Group, members of the UKA Youth Advisory Group had the opportunity to talk to delegates about their aspirations and intentions while working in partnership with UKA to ensure that the legacy of the volunteer remains at the top of the agenda for UKA when the curtain falls on London in the autumn of 2012.

Most importantly, both the UKA Youth Advisory Group and UKA Recruitment and Retention Advisory Group are made up of volunteers from the sport and officiating peers.

UKA Youth Advisory Group Members Poppy Merriot, Craig Birch and John Robertson introduced the idea of the Youth Advisory Group to conference delegates, highlighting its diversity and objectives going forward, including drawing more young people into volunteering into the sport and initiatives that recognise the involvement that young people have in the sport. The UKA Youth Advisory Group members also talked about some of the initiatives that UKA had already implemented, such as the Young Leaders Camp, an annual residential camp bringing together 150 16-19 year olds from three sports (Gymnastic, Netball and Athletics) to learn new skills in officiating, coaching and leadership.

The afternoon workshops were led by a number of leading officials from across the UK, with modules from the level 4 track and field pathway, event delivery, the progression of the official and race organisation as part of the schedule.