Umpires are vital to the running of the sport, without whom competitions and events across the land simply wouldn’t happen. They need to be recognised as an integral part of rowing, and must be reflective of the wider rowing community. A new approach to supporting existing umpires and attracting new ones is required to help ensure the continued development of a representative umpiring community that supports rowing’s overall need.
We firstly need to get a greater understanding of the current umpire community, so that we can better facilitate their path into umpiring and attract more of them into the sport, to support competition at every level. By understanding what they do, how often, where and why we can, in line with our overall philosophy of enhancing people’s experience of the sport, support the umpiring community to grow its base and ensure its continued sustainability over the long term.
Working with the umpire community, we will seek to audit where the sport is now and develop a clear vision with them as to what the sport needs in the future and how best to attract new umpires. As our first priority we want to work with a cross section of people that have expressed an interest in training to become umpires but who haven't completed that journey. Our aim is to identify commonalities and potential barriers that have stopped them.
We equally need to understand why so many in the rowing community think that umpiring isn’t for them, so that we can adapt and attract more rowers into umpiring.
Through that work we will also identify what more can be done to add value to their experience and enjoyment to ensure we keep this valuable resource retained in the sport for as long as possible. This could come in the form of umpires’ kit and equipment to allow them to do their roles more easily; or through programmes that reward and recognise umpires, celebrating them and thanking them for what they do across all aspects of the sport (including relevant elements of Competitions, Masters, Coastal, Clubs, etc.)
Ongoing CPD and training materials available to new and existing umpires to ensure a consistent quality across our officials and innovate ways of sharing learning will be a focus. We also plan to play a key part in a volunteer reward framework that provides a consistent approach to how volunteers across the whole sport are rewarded for their support of competitions and the wider rowing community.
In addition a digital application to help umpire organise their activity more easily has been developed for wider consultation with the community as to if it starts to meet some of their needs.
Umpires are a critical part of the volunteer community. Without them no competitions would be organised or run, and many of BR’s governance structures rely upon umpires in key roles.