04 March 2007
Euro Indoors a winner for young officials
hree Birmingham teenagers were back at their studies today after spending the weekend working at the European Indoor Championships – and starting a trend that UK Athletics will spread throughout the country.
Holly O’Meara, Declan O’Neill and Mitch Thompson – all aged 16 – won the right to work as officials at the Championships. And all were given the pivotal role of operating the electronic scoreboards that kept the crowd up to date with the progress in the jumps competitions.
They earned the jobs through a development programme devised by UK Athletics and Birmingham City Council to involve students at all the sports colleges in the city in Level 1 officials’ courses.
“It was up to the teachers to send the best one from their course,” said Declan, who is in the sixth form at St Edmund Campion School, part of the Kingsbury Sports Partnership. “I went along because I was chosen and then I realised I liked it. I officiated at a couple of Sportshall competitions for primary schools at Great Barr and Edmund Campion before the Championships and I’ll definitely do more. I’m going to try to get to Level 2 and see what happens then.”
Leonie Lightfoot, Performance Development Coordinator for the West Midlands Region of England Athletics who looked after the young officials at the NIA, said: “Hopefully from all the courses we have done, we will now have a database of young officials to bring into West Midlands schools events.”
And the city’s top club, Birchfield Harriers are to offer the young officials roles at future events. Indeed, Holly – an orienteer as well as a middle distance runner – already coaches at the Birchfield Academy.
Andy Paul, a coach at Birchfield and UKA Head of Athletics Development, said: “This opportunity for students to work alongside vastly experienced officials arose through a UKA budget for development that covered coaching bursaries, Combined Events Coaching Master Classes with Dr Frank Dick OBE, who coached Daley Thompson to his two Olympic decathlon titles, and Dr Jitka Vinduskova, Czech Combined Events coach – plus the young officials’ courses. This is the latest example of how we are rolling out young officials’ courses all over the country.”