There is no silver bullet when it comes to increasing the number of officials within amateur sport. There are many, often complex, issues impacting the ability to recruit new and retain existing officials. The catch-cry of “we don’t have enough officials” is one that is common to nearly every sport at amateur level.
With dedicated officiating developemnt resources generally spread thin, it is difficult to maintain, let alone increase the number of officials. There is another way; a model that shares this responsibility for growth in officiating amongst all stakeholders of the sport.
This model was first created in a rapidly growing amateur sports league in 2012 in response to insufficient numbers of officials to meet the growing demand for additional matches being played. Upon implementation, the period 2014 – 2019 saw a doubling of the numbers of officials in the league; averaging year on year growth of 13.6% (Fig. 1). The model has since been refined over a number of years and is now successfully used by the national sporting organisation as their primary recruitment strategy.
The basis of this model is simple – sharing the responsibility of officiating amongst all stakeholders with the aim to normalise officiating within the sport. The model employs strategies encouraging stakeholders to take joint ownership of officiating. This in turn increases the number of new officials recruited in a sustainable manner. Another benefit of this approach is the self-regulation of, and reported improvements in, the match day environment (Fig. 2), an important factor contributing to the retention rates of officials.
The model empowers administrators, coaches, parents and players of the sport to better understand the requirements and benefits of officiating their sport and assists in all stakeholders pushing in the same direction. A further benefit of this model is that it focuses on the recruitment of a younger demographic of officials (Fig 3); designed to lead to an increase the number of officials in the longer term.
While the landscape of amateur sports varies by country and region there are aspects of the model that can be applied to amateur sport in diverse markets to sustainably increase the number of available officials. Contact Officiency Sport today to understand how this model can be successfully implemented in your region.