Havering AC’s officials and volunteers training day was set up to support officials who needed a refresh after the COVID-enforced competitions break or further training, as well as helping to train volunteers to support and assist the club’s officials on a competition day.
It was felt that many competitions run to a very tight timetable and it’s not the best opportunity to learn ‘on the job’ at this time. More experienced officials who wanted to support their colleagues felt they couldn’t give adequate time while judging themselves. Finally, the club were also looking for volunteers to support at home and away meetings – particularly with the setting up side of things for a meeting.
Planning and preparation
A Level 4 field official at the club, Rachel Kerr told us how the day was planned.
Rachel approached the Havering AC committee to ask if they would support her vision for a volunteers and officials’ training day. The club could see her vision and a sub committee was created which included; Trevor Wells, Kevin White and Mark Bishop, all of whom have a wealth of experience in athletics. Rachel created posters, leaflets and Facebook posts which were placde on the Havering AC page and around the club/track.
This created lots of interest and we had 29 people from Havering AC alone who all had varying roles in the club (including volunteers, coaches, athletes, parents and officials). We also had another experienced official from a local county who requested to join as she wanted to take the model back her county officials team.
Fun and interactive sessions
All sessions were run by local, experienced Level 4 officials who have experience at officiating at major championships such as the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games (Jackie and Simon Wright, Tamsin James, Steve Marshall). Experienced Level 3 official and F2 technician (Jason Kilpatrick) who ran the EDM session (for measuring long throws).
Each Level 4 judge ran a different fun and interactive session during the morning part of the day which was aimed at the varying experience of people attending.
For people with little or no experience and Level 1 officials were given the opportunity to learn more about the jumps and throws events and the different roles needed to run a competition.
Experienced officials had the opportunity to learn about more senior roles such as Technical Manager, Clerk of the Course and Field Referee.
“It was great to learn how to measure different implements from an experience official who made the session fun and informative as well as telling some stories from his officiating journey.”
Finally, in the afternoon everyone came together and learned how to set up and use the EDM machines, and how to prepare the infield for throws events including putting out sector lines in preparation for a competition. Throughout the day there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions – with no question being silly.
The experience and knowledge of the Level 4 officials was invaluable on the day and Havering AC and I were very grateful that they gave up their day to help to train and support the officials and volunteers. Their contribution was key to the success of the day.
- Taking a bit of time out and away from the pressure and busy-ness of a competition setting can help people to understand what each role entails from a volunteer’s perspective.
“I found the session really informative, fun and interesting. It was really nice learning alongside others and sharing ideas, questions and answers.”
- The knowledge and confidence gained will make people more likely to want to help when we need an extra volunteer or two on an event.
“It was easier than I thought and I would happily step in to help if the officials needed someone extra on an event. I’m looking forward to helping out when the opportunity arises and learning more.”
- More experienced officials could take a step back and get the support and help that they need without having to ‘receive training on the job’ (e.g. quite common for Clerk of the Course) during an event.
“Personally I found the day informative and helpful in reminding me what I actually did know and also identifying my weaknesses and any new rules I was unaware of.”
Sharing best practice
The model that was used on the day was highly successful and one that the Club are happy to share as well as support other counties and clubs to put on similar events. Once the sub committee was formed, everything was in place within 6 weeks. You can contact Rachel directly via email.
The club now has 6 volunteers who would like to complete the Level 1 course with one volunteer also expressing that she hopes to work her way through the levels. We have also been approached by officials from other clubs who would like to attend if we have another training day next year (there are plans in the pipeline!).