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Scottish Athletics

Becoming an Official (blog)

Hi all,

As you know, the club requires a certain amount of volunteers in order to function efficiently. If you would like to help out, one avenue which you may choose to go down is becoming a graded official through Scottish Athletics. This is a step which I took almost a year ago, following some gentle prodding in the right direction. Not sure what to expect, I headed off to Livingston for the Level 1 field officiating course. The idea of officiating or refereeing a sporting event in itself can seem quite daunting, which is why I thought I would share some of my experiences from my 1st year of officiating, to show that it is not daunting at all and can in fact be very enjoyable and rewarding.

To begin with, you have to choose your discipline, either track or field. I did the field officials course purely due to the fact that the club had a greater need for field officials at that time. I did some track running in my youth, but prior to the course, my only experience of field events was watching on tv and barely being able to “barrel roll” over 1 metre 20 at the club championships high jump…so there is defenitely no requirement to know what you are doing.

Having arrived at the course, I was met with a group of similarly nervous looking people, from clubs dotted around Scotland who presumably did not have enough field officials either. Before long we were introduced to Shona and Brenda from Scottish Athletics who would be taking the course. We were placed into groups and did a few practical excercises to break the ice. There was a presentation regarding the rules of each field event before we were taken out to the track, where it was explained in detail what would be required of us whilst officiating during a live event. This surely can’t be so simple I thought. The 2nd half of the day comprised of a health and safety briefing, which is a requirement for all new officials. At the end of the day we were provided with a “log book” to record our experiences and let loose on the athletic world. The goal…to officiate in 4 events to get your level 1 license.

My first event happened to be one of the biggest on the calendar, the West District track and field championships. What are they going to ask me to do here? At least it’s in Kilmarnock I thought, if I mess it up really badly I can be back in the house hiding in 5 minutes. I needn’t have worried, I was placed with a group of experienced officials and given some simple tasks like raking the long jump pit and replacing the high jump bar. Within my 1st day officiating I had already met officials who had done the Commonwealth games and other major events like the British Championship. I have to be honest and say I only went on the course so I could help out at club events or events the club were participating in…I didn’t think for a second it would be something I would enjoy, but that is exactly what happened.

Since that 1st event, I have done around 15 more, even ones the club are not involved in and am close to getting my level 2 license.  These other events included the National Age Groups at Scotstoun, the Throws Grand Prix at Livingston and the Combined Events/Masters Championship at Grangemouth. You get a little more responsibility and learn something new each time, but you only need to do as much or as little as you are comfortable with.

If this blog has piqued your interest, I would highly recommend having a go at officiating. It might surprise you and I for one am looking forward to where it might lead. There is much more information regarding upcoming courses on the Scottish Athletics Website officials section


Please speak to Billy Roberton regarding going on any of the courses, as the club really could do with some new graded officials. You can also speak to myself and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have!