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international women's day: officials - laura cale

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21 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.  

Laura Cale 

What is your role as an official?
I'm a Level 2 time keeper.

How long have you been officiating?
Only for 1 year.

What inspired you to become an official?
I wanted to help support my son's athletics club (Leamington Athletics Academy) which is a relatively new club and was in need of officials. All the coaches there give so much time, energy and encouragement to the kids I wanted to help and give something back to the club. My son wanted to compete more but without officials the club would not have been able to enter competitive leagues.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?

t's always great to learn new skills and you never know what you are capable of until you try new things! I never thought this was something I would find myself doing but I have worked on the skill, I find I can do it and it's very satisfying thing to do. Also, it can be really exciting concentrating so fully on athletics races!

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Just growing in competency steadily over the last year has been amazing. I've had some great opportunities and have really been helped by lots of more experienced, senior (male) officials over the last year. I was 1 of only 2 timekeepers at the regional West Midlands Indoor Sportshall Finals last March; I time kept at the Warwickshire athletics championships in May last year and finally at the end of the outdoor season I time kept at the Leamington C&AC Club Finals for my daughter's club with their highly experienced Level 4 Chief Time keeper - between the 2 of us we managed the full day of events nice and smoothly.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Encourage women to volunteer and to try the various official roles. Make it acceptable to volunteer for parts of days, rather than expecting women to give up whole days. There are so many mums taking their kids to athletics events and they could be helping out by officiating, but they are also there to support their kids and to see them compete - so being more flexible and accepting offers of help for half days or for a few hours would encourage more women to give officiating a go.

It's only by having more women officiating that the older male officials will accept seeing women in these roles doing just a good job as them.

Find out more about International Women's Day here

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