Thursday, 23 May 2024

The Other Side of Officiating

FIVB Moscow

We all have our reasons for getting into officiating. For some of us, it’s the opportunity to travel the world, immerse ourselves in different cultures, and make new friends. As an official, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this other side of officiating, and today, I want to share with you some of my most memorable experiences.

A Taste of China

One summer, I had the chance to officiate a beach volleyball tournament in Haiyang, China. Now, Haiyang may be considered a small town by the locals, but with a population of 658,000, it was quite an experience for me. This seaside resort welcomed us with open arms, giving us a glimpse into their country and culture.

Every evening, the hotel would organize cultural displays featuring the local citizens. We learned about traditional food sculpture, the art of paper cutting, and even got a chance to witness a martial arts demonstration by local children and their instructors. The best part? We got to participate too!

Chinese Cuisine

On our last night in China, the entire referee crew treated ourselves to a traditional Chinese dinner at a local restaurant. Walking into the restaurant was like stepping into a dream. The room was filled with more than 50 fully stocked aquariums, and those aquariums served as our menu. Talk about fresh seafood!

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The dinner itself was a feast. We sat at a 20-person round table in a private dining room, and the staff brought out dish after dish, placing them on an enormous lazy Susan in the center of the table. We helped ourselves to whatever we wanted as the platters made their way around. I tried everything, even if I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

After dinner, the night continued with games and laughter. Volleyball administrators and officials from all over the world, speaking different languages, coming together to share in this incredible experience – this is the other side of officiating.

Moscow’s Charm

A few weeks later, I found myself in Moscow, Russia. In between our on-court events, we had the chance to explore the city and visit some of its iconic landmarks. It was a whirlwind of history and culture.

St. Basil's Cathedral

One funny moment was when our referee crew wanted to take a group photo in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral. We asked a familiar face to snap the picture, and it turned out to be none other than Alison Cerutti, the beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist from 2016. He happily obliged and took some amazing photos for us.

Our tournament venue was Gorky Park, a beautiful oasis in the heart of Moscow. Every day, we would stroll through the park, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. Kids on scooters, families feeding ducks, couples enjoying a romantic paddleboat ride – it was a chance for us to be outdoors and soak up the local culture. This is the other side of officiating.

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Lima’s Wonders

One of my most unforgettable trips was to Lima, Peru, for the 2019 Pan American Games. Lima had put in years of preparation to host the games, and they did an incredible job. Despite it being winter in July, the weather was mild, and we had a fantastic time.

What made this trip truly extraordinary was the proximity to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After the competition ended, I took the opportunity to visit some incredible archaeological sites including Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Moray, and the city of Cusco. Seeing these bucket list sites in person was a dream come true – this is the other side of officiating.

Conclusion

Being a volleyball official is not just a job for me; it’s an opportunity for personal growth and exploration. While striving to improve my skills is a driving force, nothing beats the chance to visit new places and experience different cultures. The other side of officiating is a truly remarkable fringe benefit.

FAQs

Q: How can I become a volleyball official?
A: To become a volleyball official, you can start by reaching out to your local volleyball association or federation. They can provide you with information on training programs and certification requirements.

Q: Are there any age restrictions for becoming a volleyball official?
A: Age restrictions may vary depending on the country and level of officiating. It’s best to check with your local association or federation for specific requirements.

Q: Is being a volleyball official a paid position?
A: Yes, being a volleyball official is a paid position. The amount of compensation may vary depending on the level of competition and the country you are officiating in.

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Q: Are there any opportunities for international officiating?
A: Yes, there are opportunities for international officiating, especially at higher levels of competition. International tournaments and championships often require officials from different countries to ensure fairness and impartiality.

Q: What skills are necessary to be a successful volleyball official?
A: Some essential skills for a volleyball official include a thorough understanding of the rules, good decision-making abilities, strong communication skills, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Training programs and experience can help develop and refine these skills.