1st ITF Scotland Umpire Course
23rd February 2014, Livingston, Scotland.
ITF Scotland hosted its first National Umpire Qualification Training, with 67 blackbelt members attending. The course was presented by the ITF Scotland Umpire Committee, Master Gordon Wallace VII, Mr David McNairn VI, Mr Mark Boydell V and Mr David Lupton V. The event was hosted by the ITF Scotland Tournament Committee, Mr & Mrs McIlvaney, at their gym at Livingston.
The course lasted from 0900 till 1800 and was the first stage of the national umpire qualification process. The course had been formulated around the launch of the new ITF Scotland Tournament Rules for 2014. The rules encompass a very wide range of competitor ages, grades and physicality, therefore to umpire efficiently and fairly it was important to have a fit for purpose course to present the various codes of practice and procedures for the umpires to follow.
The day started with Master Wallace outlining the scope and purpose of the course, along with the mission statement of intent from the Tournament and Umpire Committees to continuous development of our Umpires, and from the networking that followed so many blackbelts did not come forward to umpire of a lack of self-confidence I this area. The course in our opinion had bridged that gap and encompassed an untapped reserve of degree members who never have, or have passed the age of where they can compete at a national tournament, but can have an enormous contribution to the development of our younger members and athletes by becoming a national umpire.
Master Wallace continued with the extreme importance of the wider practical duties of umpires who may not be seated in a scoring role but without their input, in keeping pro-active with preparing the readiness of the following matches and divisions, the competition schedule falls behind and the overall tournament dynamic suffers and quite possibly a visitors perspective of the event. Master Wallace extended about the importance of the umpire’s image and how we present ourselves as an organisation to visitors and spectators. The opening section was essentially described as “Do” for Umpires.
Master Wallace closed his session with the technical section of Pattern rules and the deduction point scoring techniques that is now applied to the performance assessment. The section looked closely at the methods of comparing competitor performance and scoring a pattern performed by a varied level competitors taking into account age, experience and physicality. The section closed with everyone being involved in small group practical scoring exercises.
The second session of sparring was conducted by Mr David McNairn VI and Mr David Lupton V. The applied rules and divisions were explained, but as with all sparring sections of an umpire course, experienced and novice blackbelts alike have issues determining right from left when initiating two different warnings to two competitors! Much fun allowed many lessons to be learned and most importantly with a lot of people now thinking that they would like to be centre referees as it is seen as a challenge to overcome. A very good question and answer session followed before the groups split of to try and test our novice centre referees in training.
Mr McNairn and Mr Lupton further discussed what constitutes a valid point from a technical standpoint and also what constitutes a point when infractions to the rules are involved. This again prompted a good question and answer session.
The last section of the day was for power and special technique and was conducted by Mr Mark Boydell. In order to raise the profile of power breaking within our national tournament, a new format has been introduced which involved Pre-Qualifying and Medal Rounds. Clarification of the rules, procedures and umpire commands for both power and special technique were discussed and again a good question and answer session followed.
The course closed with Mr McNairn extending his passion for the National Flags of Scotland and how they should be hung correctly as banners on walls or suspended over railings at championships as he is extremely dismayed that in many occasions it is back to front. The delegation left the course after all the official photographs were taken, full of knowledge about umpire rules and national flag hanging procedures.