(photo: adam troy)
Floorball officiating is a valued tool in helping grow the game.
Without a doubt the people on the court who catch all the grief from fans, players, and coaches are the officials. However, without them you can’t play organized matches or tournaments. They are the keepers of the rules and masters of their domain. What we tend to forget in many cases is that they’re people who are just as serious about their craft as the players. Officials by and large want to be perfect, strive to make the right calls, and make mistakes. Depending on the setting and skill level of the match, they’re also in a constant state of learning, evaluating, and re-learning to improve. When developing new officials and new leagues we need to make sure that we’re giving them an opportunity to learn and grow. Too often players jump all over the officials for calls made, and while those call can lead to goals or games lost in the end they’re still people.
As more clubs and leagues develop it will becoming equally important finding, training, and developing officials. One of the great things about the internet age is that there are a number of resources readily available in print and digital form to help with the development process. If you’re not sure where to start begin searching. The International Floorball Federation has a variety of resources on their website to help including PowerPoint presentations on officiating. In the US there is more planned in this area to help develop officials. The US Nationals tournament traditionally has an officials development portion, and there are more clinics scheduled throughout the year. This is encouraging as it will become key to the success of Floorball going forward.
To be an official the first step is to read and understand the rules and the varying nuances of the sport. Spend time watch videos of matches to study up on situational plays and the fouls called. The more time spent watching will help when the official goes to make a call live. Once you have a grasp of the rules it’s important for officials to understand the various hand signals and what they mean. It’s just as important for field players to know and understand these concepts as well. One of the challenges developing countries face is getting people together for training. Development and training for officials is a vital component to ensure consistent calls and growth of officials across the spectrum. In the US this topic has come to the forefront as more groups begin to play Floorball around the country. The challenge is both distance and cost to regularly fly to a training, which just isn’t a feasible option. Ideally as this grows more and more people will be trained and the process will continue to grow.
In the end having a core group of trained and knowledgeable officials will help everyone. Players want to play where they know the league has quality officials covering games. Without it leagues will falter or stall in their growth. However, nothing should come at the expense of treating officials poorly, especially at the youth levels. This is where we must make a stand. We must protect the officials and work to change the trend of abuse towards officials, especially young officials. Without a development system of willing and engaged participants officiating games the sport will stall. In the US we’re in a unique position because we’re all new and learning the sport. Be kind to the official because they do help grow the sport in the end.