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international women's day: officials - serena bignell

Serena Bignell

27 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. 

Serena Bignell

What is your role as an official?
I am a Level 2 track and field timekeeper and I also do ancillary roles such ‘Call Room’ support.

How long have you been officiating?
3 years

What inspired you to become an official?
As I became more involved in the organisation of athletics and helping with hosting local track and field events I realised the importance of officials, bringing years of experience, commitment and knowledge to make events happen and be successful.

Some competitions such as the Youth Development League have a point’s allocation system where points can be awarded or deducted for providing or not providing officials and at the time our club needed more officials.

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

Do some research into the wide variety of officiating duties and find a role which is of interest to you.

Once you have completed the officiating course ask your club/School to help you find a mentor. A good mentor will ideally have some years of experience to impart knowledge and provide support to help you grow with confidence.

If you enjoy athletics officiating is a great way of developing your athletics knowledge. It will help your personal development, particularly if you’re an athlete. There are plenty of opportunities to observe events.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Last year I took the role of ‘Chief timekeeper’ at a local area school’s athletics event. I guided six young female students through their timekeeping duties. They loved the experience and so did I. Another highlight must be officiating at the Loughborough International and the British Millers Club events.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Our young people are the future of our sport and we need to support and reward their achievements. A suggestion would be to offer exciting officiating workshops to schools and clubs, taking opportunities and ideas to young people.  thletics needs to identify inspirational role models for instance GB athletes to participate in officiating.


Find out more about International Women's Day here

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