I hope you are keeping safe and well during these unprecedented and uncertain times. As well as providing you with an update, I just wanted to reach out to all those in our Officiating community to wish you our very best during this period but also to thank you all for your efforts over the 2019-20 winter indoor, cross country and road running season.
I accept that this might feel like it was a long time ago now, and much has changed in the intervening period, but I want you to be aware that your efforts continue to be fundamentally important to the way in which our excellent athletics and running events are organised in England. Without you, it would be difficult to support our great sport as we currently do. I had the pleasure of talking with a number of you at our indoor age group championships in Sheffield during February and it is always one of the most enjoyable opportunities that I get in this role during the competition season.
I am extremely mindful that we are now many weeks into lockdown in England and that we are about to enter the month of May during which we would traditionally be looking forward to a number of outdoor events including club fixtures and of course County and Area level Championships. Sadly, that is now not the case and you may be aware that today we announced the extension of the suspension of competitions in our sport through to at least the end of June 2020. We review these decisions on a regular basis, taking into account feedback from many groups including officials and, as you would expect, we are directly informed by UK government guidance on such matters.
As a result of the above, we have also announced the postponement of the England Athletics Under 23 & Under 20 Championships that were due to take place in Bedford on 6-7 June. Click here to read our latest statement on the suspension of competitions activity.
We do hope that we will be in a position to hold some sort of track and field competition during the summer and we have been planning positively with UKA, the other Home Country Athletics Federations and other competition providers in looking at what an alternative competition season may look like (should we be able to return to some sort of normality). This may not be possible for reasons out of our control, but we feel the responsible thing to do is to look ahead and to plan with a positive mindset for most eventualities. We have budgeted to deliver some sort of competition from July onwards whilst accepting that this ambition may not be realised.
I fully recognise that any lift on restrictions will likely come with some conditions that we will need to consider and comply with. The interests and needs of officials will be central to this. We would like to hear from you and to better understand your thinking at this moment in time. We also recognise that some of you will be feeling uncertain and unsure about whether you would like to officiate shortly after the lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Our Competition Manager Andy Day and our Officials Development Officer Nikki English have been in regular contact with a number of officials to discuss your specific situations with you but we would certainly welcome the wider thoughts of the officiating family at this time. You can submit your views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
In closing, I do hope that you are managing to keep in touch and support one other during this time. I also hope that you have been able to follow some of the work that England Athletics has been doing through our Athletics & Running for Everyone @home platform on our website in recent weeks, which includes free officials webinars and officiating scenarios resources. Please note that attendance on any of these webinars can also be added into your officiating Record of Experiences. We would welcome any ideas on how else this campaign could benefit officials – such as suggestions for webinar topics, resources or other ways for officials to stay connected (please contact us using the email above). I would also encourage you to check back on this website - www.englandathletics.org - for the latest news and information on England Athletics activity and for guidance relating to CV-19.
Thank you once again for all your efforts and I hope, most importantly, that you remain safe and well during this period. I hope to be able to see you again in person very soon.
All my best wishes
(Chris Jones - CEO, England Athletics)