Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub in Christchurch recently played host to the first event Technical Officials Education and Certification System (TOECS) Level II course held in New Zealand, with 15 officials from around the country nominated by their centres to take part.
The TOECS Level II course was supported by a High Performance Sport NZ Prime Ministers Scholarship, to allow Athletics NZ to maximise the opportunities presented by the new Oceania Athletics Association (OAA) permitted meet system.
Under this system, athletes now have the opportunity to score world ranking points at any OAA permitted meet, which can range from National Championships and Summer “Classics”, through to permitted local meets open to all athletes.
The course was delivered by Athletics NZ Officials Education Manager Trevor Spittle, with assistance from Ruth Liong. All attendees passed the rigorous course, and are now eligible to officiate at international competitions, as well as apply for a spot on the Oceania Area Technical Panel.
One of the 15 attendees was Deborah Fern from Taranaki, who sat down to talk about the course and officiating with Athletics NZ Community Manager, Hamish Meacheam.
Q; How did you first become involved in officiating?
I have competed myself through high school and later as a senior woman’s heptathlete. I enjoyed all the events and took up the Heptathlon mostly to learn to coach various events. I was 3 times New Jersey Garden State Games Champion. I returned to NZ for the 1990-91 season competing for Waitemata Club and Auckland at Nationals and National Multi Events and was a 5000 point heptathlete. Nothing special but I enjoyed doing all the events and this made coaching at school and Club easier as I had been involved in a number of events.
I continued to coach and officiate at our local Club. Once my kids started competing at a higher level, I went to their competitions. It was at a competition in Wellington that I was asked to help as they were short of officials and I really enjoyed it. Between that and Greg Werder encouraging me to work with him as a Starter, and complete my grading, it just continued to be an interesting option for me.
Q; What did you most enjoy about the recent TOECS Level II Course in Christchurch?
I enjoyed the camaraderie with all the other officials attending and the challenge of learning more around the areas that I officiate in the least. The lectures were interesting, and the practical sessions reinforced the information being shared in the classroom.
Q; Were any aspects of the course challenging?
All aspects were challenging in some way as we were focusing on all areas of the rule book and having spent most of my officiating in Jumps or Track, other areas were less familiar to me. Added to that the written exam was long, trying to get through it all and answering the questions correctly was definitely challenging.
Q; What types of roles are you now able to fulfill having completed the course?
I would now feel comfortable being the Chief Judge at a competition and even a Referee. In addition, I am more confident about my knowledge and ability to make decisions while officiating at a major event.
Q; Do you have any plans to officiate internationally?
Absolutely, that would be a goal. I would like to gain more experience in the role of Chief Judge or Referee in different events. Also, I would like to take on roles such as Meeting Manager or Competition Director.
Q; What events are you most looking forward to this domestic summer?
I am looking forward to Athletics NZ Track and Field Championships again and I really enjoy working at the Permit and Classic meetings around the North Island. I also look forward to the North Island and National Secondary Schools’ competitions.
Q; The 2020 Colgate Games are coming to your home region of Taranaki – are the local officials looking forward to this?
Of course, we are looking forward to hosting 2020 Colgate Games. The track at Inglewood is a beautiful setting, especially if the weather is at its best. We are proud of our officials and facility and look forward to the opportunity to showcase our region.
Q; If you could say one thing to someone thinking about trying out officiating, what would it be?
If you do get involved in officiating, try to work in all areas not just one. Also do the grading and put your name forward to officiate at National events. Working with and listening to all the senior officials at Nationals was the best learning experience. There is a great comradery among officials here in New Zealand. A great group to learn from and be a part of.