by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Under the leadership of Germany’s Michael Zwipp, notably the referee at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the group worked on a rotational basis as assistant referees
“Out of 150 international referees worldwide, there are five in Africa only. Even more, most African countries are not yet ready to conduct a programme to develop national referees. There is an urgent need for referee education in Africa.” Michael Zwipp
Each member of the group had the opportunity to experience the full range of duties undertaken by a referee; such items as the call area, racket test, organizing march-in procedures and ensuring a professional presentation of the matches were covered.
“The aim was to teach the practical tasks of referee work. All candidates were highly motivated; they listened carefully to all instructions and feedback sessions. They adapted to the processes very fast.” Michael Zwipp
Additional to the practical sessions, theoretical seminars were held in the evening. Questions regarding rules and regulations were covered, as was decision making. Notably videos were shown which highlighted problems on which a referee may be needed to adjudicate.
“All students contributed well; most days we worked long hours till after midnight. The concept of classroom-theory and tournament-practice was well received and will be used as a role model for further referee education. A little handicap was the language; some candidates did not speak English so well; mandatory to start the referee programme at international level.” Michael Zwipp
In order to become an International Referee, a student must pass the Advanced Rules Examination.
Notably Egypt has applied to host the next International Referees School later this year in October; a good opportunity for those in Africa with aspirations to move to the next level in their referee career.