Northern Exposure

AV-ANSW Officials Development Exchange Program 2016

We all have our own journey as officials, but selection for the AV-ANSW Officials Development Exchange Program provided a unique opportunity to share an experience that was both professionally enriching and personally rewarding. And so it was in mid-February this year that Christine Dell, Josh Savage and Stuart Schnaars gathered at Melbourne Airport on a sunny Friday afternoon and flew to Sydney for the ANSW Junior and Youth Track & Field Championships.

With all of the administration for the weekend handled by AV – Jetstar flights, taxi transfers in Sydney and accommodation at the Ibis SOPAC – the scene was set with the goal to broaden our experience and practical knowledge as officials through exposure to a different State-level Track & Field Championship environment. Our objective was to achieve the AV goal whilst maximizing our enjoyment.

Like our AV Junior State Track & Field Championships, the competition ran from twilight Friday to twilight Sunday, but due to travel constraints, our participation was limited to the full program on Saturday and up to mid-afternoon Sunday. Kim Owens was our Sydney host and she did a terrific job making our integration into ANSW a seamless experience, with the three of us allocated to Field event teams for the weekend – no surprises there! And this is where the differences between AV and ANSW became noticeable:

  • Each team was fully comprised of qualified officials – no Club Helpers – and the Chief appointment within the team changed with events. (Gave the event a ‘National Championship’ feel to it).
    • This enabled the workload to be well spread and mitigated fatigue, especially for Chiefs.


Josh Savage checking end of round performances in the Shot Put.


Christine Dell enjoying a less stressful moment at the Long Jump under Tony Okulicz watchful eye.

  • Field Teams were allocated events across the range maximizing the variety of appointments throughout the Championship as demonstrated by the events we officiated in:
    • Christine – Long Jump, High Jump (Chief) and Shot Put
    • Josh – Shot Put, High Jump (Chief), Pole Vault (Chief) and Javelin, plus a Saturday cameo at Triple Jump on the rake
    • Stuart – Javelin, Triple Jump (Chief) and Long Jump (Chief)
  • No Call Room; athletes were required to report to the event site 20 minutes before the advertised start time.
    • the 20-minute requirement was not strictly applied, but event start times were and ‘late’ arrivals got limited or no warm up.
  • Field Referees were present and acted as mentors for Chiefs providing immediate feedback on the conduct of the event, highlighting what went well and areas for improvement.
    • Chiefs in turn provided mentoring to their team, which for us greatly enhanced our learning experience.
  • The Field Program ran to time. The program was ‘intensively’ managed by Tony Okulicz; time allocations were reasonable/realistic and the Referees worked with Tony to ensure the time allocations were achieved.
  • Despite everyone working under the IAAF Competition Rules, there are always variations in the way events are conducted due to personalities and idiosyncrasies. This was the basis for the true value of the learning experience over the weekend. Working with new people in different surroundings was educational and fun.
  • They don’t have an ‘Andrea Hallett’! Admittedly, ANSW were working under ‘adverse’ conditions with the Championship being held on the Warm Up Track due to the Main Stadium Track being unavailable (re-surface in progress) and the Officials’ Room being an ‘ATCO-type’ hut with no space to swing a cat, but there didn’t appear to be someone there with the primary purpose of ensuring officials were fed and watered at all times. We are very well catered for in Victoria with ‘quality’ meals and refreshments and Andrea’s mobile cart service throughout the day.


Resistance was futile – we were assimilated!

L-R: Stuart Schnaars, Christine Dell, Josh Savage

To wrap it up, we would like to thank Glenn Turnor (CEO AV) and Duncan Tweed (CEO ANSW) for providing the Exchange Program, Kim Owens for hosting us in Sydney, Tony Okulicz and Tony Smyth for their mentoring throughout the weekend and the AV office for all the background administration that is required to support such a wonderful program. Our objective was achieved. The three of us returned to Victoria with new friendships and a broader practical knowledge of officiating our sport.

So in January next year, if you find yourself sitting at home thinking should I or shouldn’t I put my name forward, just do it. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Thank you AV and ANSW!


Left: George Toemoe, Marc Ambat and Garth Pereira with Victorian Officials Peter Price, Jeff Hughes and Phil Allen

Right: Christine Dell, Marc Ambat, Garth Pereira and Richard Lawysz