On Friday, 30 May, I travelled to Brisbane for the second National Officiating Scholarship seminar. This time the group of 24 officials had been split into two and hockey, tennis, cricket, skating (derby and speed) and swimming officials were participating in this workshop. The other officials were in Melbourne the previous weekend. Feedback from Facebook posts and comments had been positive and coupled with the fantastic experience of the first seminar, I was looking forward to the next few days of learning.
We had been given the task of preparing a 5 minute presentation to bring to the group during the weekend. Parameters were purposefully vague and this was something that was causing me concern as I got myself organized for travel. I enlisted the help of Tom and the boys, all experts in creating power points and capturing video, something I hadn't done before, and got them to give me lessons in PowerPoint 101. Armed with laptop, various cables and plugs, a USB and my notes, I headed off, once again nervous and excited about what lay ahead.
It was wonderful walking into a room full of friendly, familiar faces on Saturday morning. We quickly caught up on all that had been going on in our worlds since the previous workshop and got down to business. We had group sessions on psychology – Knowing your stress, nutrition – The Perfect Diet, Superfoods and Supplements, and decision making. Once again, all sessions were very informative and easily applicable to our officiating roles in our specific sports. I was surprised to learn that there is minimal benefit in taking Vitamin C unless you are sick. Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that the only thing that it prevents, when taken by someone who is well, is an athlete's ability to adapt to their training regime – ie; to improve in strength, speed and fitness!!
Individual specialist appointments and small group discussion sessions were also a part of our Saturday schedule. Emphasis was placed on further group networking and professional support for our various officiating appointments and challenges ahead. I was continually blown away with the time these specialists give each of us personally. Their input, guidance and foresight has been invaluable and very much appreciated.
We were given the chance to enjoy Saturday night off. There were no restrictions, only a strong worded reminder to make good choices, be mindful of who we represent and to ensure that we were present in the morning regardless of condition. The officials group decided to have dinner together. I joined them for a drink before heading off to dinner and a catch up with my mentor, Karen Doyle. Apparently I was tagged the honorary "party animal" of the group. Getting back from Karen's at 1030pm meant that I had stayed out the latest!! Clearly, the knowledge that each of us had a presentation to make on Sunday, kept us on the straight and narrow on Saturday night.
Sunday, 1 June, was another great day packed full of more group psychology sessions, individual specialist appointments, small group activities on communication and decision making and, of course, the dreaded individual presentations. Although we were confident of the support and friendship in the group, I think it's fair to say that all of us were somewhat nervous as we stood in front of our peers, mindful of the 5 minute "cut off" being enforced by Ben and Ash's stopwatch. Personally, I found the time limit challenging but, in the end, a great learning experience about myself as a presenter. The positive and constructive feedback given was invaluable and I'm sure that each of us walked away discovering something more about ourselves.
Other officials in the room learnt something about inline speed skating too! "I'm still stuck on the fact that you're not ice" was some of the feedback given by a few people in the room. I'm really grateful that I was able to set them straight and give them some information about inline speed skating in that 5 minute presentation exercise.
With the pressure of presentations now over, we were able to relax, engage in the last group discussion and brainstorm about various problems presented in the session. All too quickly the seminar was over. Officials were saying goodbye, wishing one another the best of luck for future appointments and promising ongoing contact in the months ahead.
Karen was kind enough to take me to the airport giving us a chance to debrief and talk about the weekend just completed. It was a very well organized and highly professional undertaking full of learning opportunities and professional development.
As already mentioned, the CIC has accepted SA's application that I sit my International Accreditation at the World Championships in Argentina this year. My exam is scheduled for 11 November – the rest day at Worlds. The next 5 months will be busy and the CIC International Rule Book will become my new best friend. Well, not really, but you get the idea.... Focus for me will be, not only on knowing the rules well, but also on understanding their interpretation and application at a World level. I'm looking forward to the exciting months ahead.