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international women's day: the officials' line - christine oldfield 

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Christine Oldfield

04 March 2019 

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March every year and is a focal point in the movement of women’s rights.  This year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. 

Athletics prides itself on being a gender balanced sport and our officials play a major part in achieving this, where currently there are 59% male and 41% female officials in the UK.  In support of International Women’s Day 2019, throughout March, we will feature Officials across the UK to celebrate them and their commitment to athletics.  

Christine Oldfield from Nottingham

What is your role as an official?
I have Level 4 track, Level 3 Field, Level 2 Starter’s assistant and Timekeeper and Level 1 Photo-finish. I also have an Australian Athletics Grade A (top grade) track certificate. At 74, I now limit myself to officiating at local events (Nottingham) working on the track or field, wherever I can be most useful.

How long have you been officiating?
13 years. Until 2016 I regularly officiated the summer seasons in both Perth Australia and here, all around the UK.

What inspired you to become an official?
I joined Masters Athletics Western Australia and did Sunday social runs. I was then persuaded (at 60) to try the track meets they provided twice a week. They expected runners to volunteer to judge and time keep each week and it was brought home to me how essential these tasks were. When I showed interest, another member suggested I take it further and volunteer for the ‘open’ weekly meetings in Perth. I was not a natural athlete but found I was good at officiating – both track and field - and really enjoyed learning about all the different disciplines and finding out how it all worked. It was also a great motivating experience to work with top class athletes (eg Steve Hooker trained and competed at our facility in Perth.)

After getting some qualifications (written exams plus practical reports) I registered my interest with UKA and was assigned to Level 2 and worked up from there, first on the track, then the field.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
Be prepared to work hard and gain qualifications. You will achieve great enjoyment and satisfaction from the work that you do. Don’t ignore local grass roots meetings but aspire to officiate at top class meetings. The world is your oyster.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Officiating at the World Masters Athletics T&F Championships in Puerto Alegre, Brazil in 2013. I was appointed to represent the UK and Australia on the International team of officials.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Registered running or athletics clubs should be encouraged to ask their members to think about becoming officials. Clubs have far more female members these days. Whether they have joined in order to improve their running or athletic careers or for health and social reasons, many may have other skills to offer. You can take up officiating without previous qualifications or knowledge of track and field events. I never imagined when I started out that I would ever be a track referee or clerk of course, or lead a hammer or pole vault event. But everything is possible.

Find out more about International Women's Day here

If you want to get involved in officiating, find out more information here