Lydia Kelly: How officiating can boost self-belief

Volunteers, including officials, help to make athletics and running special. Their roles help events to run smoothly, whilst creating a positive athletics experience for so many athletes.

We caught up with North West Inspiring Official award winner Lydia Kelly to discuss her officiating journey and advice to others looking to get involved.

How did you get into officiating? 

"I started officiating when I was 14 and still competing as an athlete with my local athletics club Manchester Harriers & AC. I then stopped competing during my final years of university as training became challenging. I continued officiating to stay connected with athletics and contribute to the sport."

What do you enjoy most about officiating?

"What I enjoy most about officiating is the opportunity to contribute to the smooth running of athletic events while witnessing the dedication and achievements of athletes up close. My journey as an official has allowed me to develop confidence by learning new skills and provided a chance to connect with many friendly officials.

"They are always happy to answer my questions and offer advice, making my journey in becoming an official an enjoyable and positive experience. The sense of friendship and being part of such a welcoming community makes the officiating journey immensely rewarding."

How important are the physical and mental health benefits of officiating?  

Lydia Kelly field official

"Officiating plays a crucial role in keeping me physically active, as it involves lots of movement across the various events and, depending on your role, some require lots of walking, which contributes to maintaining my fitness levels.

"However, the most significant benefit of officiating is its positive impact on my mental health. It provides a sense of belonging within a community and offers a variety of opportunities for socialising with different people.

"Additionally, officiating has boosted my confidence and self-belief and has demonstrated that I can successfully undertake tasks I may have initially doubted or believed were beyond my capabilities."

How have you supported others to follow in your officiating footsteps?  

"I have supported others in following my officiating footsteps by sharing my experiences of both the challenges and rewards of the role, to help give them a better understanding of what officiating is all about and the different roles.

"I have also tried to create a supportive environment for newer officials by sharing resources and my knowledge by answering any questions they may have to help them develop their skills and confidence in the officiating community and continue their journey to become an official."

What has been one of your main highlights as official so far?

"I have had a few highlights in my officiating journey so far. One of my proudest moments was gaining my Level 3 as a field official as this is something which I never thought I could achieve.

"Another of my proudest moments was being nominated for North West Inspiring Official of the Year and winning. It was an absolute honour to get nominated by other officials who have been a part of my officiating journey so far.

"Another highlight was being able to go and officiate at my first national championships, as this gave me a real confidence boost that I could do things that I doubted myself in. It also was an incredible learning experience for me as I was able to observe and ask questions from higher-level officials who were always happy to support me and made sure I was okay during each event —and overall, it made the weekend such an enjoyable experience for me."

If you could say one thing to someone who’s thinking about officiating, but they’ve not taken that step yet, what would you say?  

"I would say to them, "Take the step and give officiating a try. It's not just about contributing to the sport; it's a journey of personal growth and discovering capabilities you might not have known you had. The rewards extend beyond the sport, making it a fulfilling and inspiring experience."

"You will not regret stepping into the world of officiating and being part of an excellent, friendly, and supportive community that encourages everyone to achieve."

If Lydia’s story has inspired you to get involved in officiating, then we have lots of courses and guidance to help you get started.


If Lydia’s story has inspired you to get involved in officiating, then we have lots of courses and guidance to help you get started.

Officiating news