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Thoughts on Refereeing

As we are in the midst of the 2002 - 2003 tournament season, I feel this is an appropriate time to bring up the subject of mentoring referees.

Concern has been voiced as to the lack of referees and their skill level - and the concern is elevated when we look at the number and quality of candidates that are being produced by referee activities in our province.

The present system of looking to clubs to develop referees is not working to the level required to produce adequate numbers of competent officials. Judo Canada tried to interest competitors at a national team training camp with a provisional certification plan; this did not meet with any success either.

In my opinion the present style of pre-tournament meetings, while having some benefit for current officials, does nothing to help the aspiring official in their learning. More on-mat clinics - away from the tournament scene - would provide better opportunity to develop potential mat officials giving them instant feed-back and additional practice time in a learning atmosphere.

One area of development that should be looked into is the implementation of a referee mentor program, whereby senior certified referees would take beginning and less experienced referees under their wing to assist them in their development. This idea has merit.

In BC, there are a number of senior referees who have been refereeing at the national and international level for a number of years, if not decades. I would suggest that the wealth of knowledge available to the Judo BC Referee Committee from these senior referees be utilized by implementing a mentor program at the start of each tournament season.

A number of years ago, Judo Canada formed an ad-hock committee (Seiko Ouchi, Guy Sunada and myself) to develop a referee training manual that could be utilized by the provinces as a guide to producing knowledgeable, competent referees at the various certification levels. After many hours of meetings and much revision, the manual was completed and delivered to Judo Canada. Since that original manual was developed, it has been subsequently revised and updated. To the best of my knowledge, the final product has never been circulated to the provinces.......

In the eyes of many, there is no glory in officiating. So why do we do it? Many of us that have been in judo for a number of years feel obligated to officiate; however it appears that many judoka do not feel the same way. Nowadays, one is either a competitor, coach or official - no more do we see the dual roles!

Officiating can be rewarding. There is the personal satisfaction in learning something new, giving back to the sport, travel and meeting other like-minded judoka. Competitors and coaches that take up officiating have a better understanding of the competition rules thereby producing more knowledgeable competitors. And need we mention the free lunches at shiai!

Steps must be taken to address the situation; Judo BC should take the lead and implement a referee program much along the lines as those developed for competitors.

John A. Huntley
I J F B - Continental Referee
Aberdeen Judo Academy
Kamloops, B.C.

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