Even at a Club level a minimum of 4-5 Officials is really the base line for a good Officiating crew, which carries a much greater burden than any other Sport. Add to this the fact that only a tiny amount of New Zealanders have watched, let along played a game of American Football (as opposed to something like Rugby) and the rules are arguably about as complex as any Sport gets, and you can see why a big effort is going to be needed to get us to where we need to get to.
NZAFF are committed to doing what we can to support the Development of American Football Officials in New Zealand, and to kick this off have again worked with our friends over the ditch in Australia to leverage their existing program. Australian Gridiron Officials Association (AGOA) have been hugely supportive of helping us put some building blocks in place, as they see a strong New Zealand as critical to making Oceania a region which is taken seriously when it comes to American Football.
At the end of the day, it will primarily still need to be NZAFF member Regions and Clubs who put forward the volunteers to Officiate games around the Country, but our commitment is to ensure these people have a basic infrastructure to support them to learn and grow as Officials. Whether this is simply to help out on a Saturday at a Club level to give back to the Sport they may have played, or as part of an aspiration to develop to a level where they can officiate internationally, we want to implement a multi-level development program that can cater for this growth.
Our initial focus will be on Level 0 which aims to give some basic support and training to the Officials who will support our Club games week to week, and to try and make an immediate impact on our game as soon as this season. This alone probably requires a pool of at least 100 New Zealander’s around the Country so is no mean feat, so we will all need to work together to get there.
The risk of just throwing someone a whistle on Saturday and saying “can you help us out?” is that the people feel overwhelmed, so we hope that with some basic training and development the Officials themselves will get more enjoyment from the experience and want to continue to help out. Having recognised “qualifications” we think also makes a difference, as it feels good to commit to something and have that hard work and effort recognised.
We also recognise that we do already have some talented and experienced Officials who have been engaged with our Sport in the past, but not always been appreciated or nurtured. We hope this Program gives them a platform to get some recognition and pass on their experience to others, and we certainly welcome their feedback.
As with our Coach Development Program, we are starting pretty simple but we need to start somewhere, and we feel if we can start with a wide pool of entry Level Officials we can build on this in years to come.
For more information and to register for the program follow this link.