Binan, Philippines, September 6, 2016 – The “SMM” 2016 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship features a competitive selection of teams representing 12 of the top clubs in the Asian region, which brought in the biggest ever number of female referees to officiate in an Asian competition.
FIVB and AVC Honorary Life President Mr Wei Jizhong gave his insights on the great exposure that this tournament is providing the referees to learn and test their knowledge in officiating.
“This competition provides a great practical training ground for the new referees,” Wei said. “There are elements in an actual match that you don’t learn in any practical clinics, which is why I advised them to watch two to three matches per day. This is the only way that they will be able to learn and become more analytical.”
“I want the referees to be able to be more observant of what’s happening on an actual match because this is some sort of formation for them to acquire better skills in terms of officiating the game.”
The Asian Women’s Club Championship has a total of seven female referees, namely, Yao Jing of China, Meylani Mamangkey of Indonesia, Zahra Shiri Chalkasari of Iran, Nahoko Watanabe of Japan, Yuliya Akulova of Kazakhstan, Nguyen Thi Than Hoa of Vietnam and Jocelyn Del Rosario of the Philippines.
The female referees outnumber their male counterparts, which is a good indication that the AVC is moving closer to involve the women in managing events in Asia.
Most of these women welcome the change as they earn the recognition to be on the field more, unlike in the past when officiating was a predominantly all-male affair.
“I am happy to see so many female referees in this competition,” Del Rosario said. “I appreciate the direction that the FIVB and AVC is going to have more female referees officiating at this level of competition. I am so proud to be part of this group, which has so many female referees.”
Del Rosario explained that it took a long time for a female Filipino referee to be active again in the international stage.
“I am the only female referee officiating at this level in the Philippines,” Del Rosario said. “My predecessor already retired and it took years for another one to reach this level. Now more and more people recognize me.”
Del Rosario is pleased with the opportunity and believes that this is a big step for her compatriots to also rise to the occasion, as the Philippine teams are also developing in competition.
“I was not expecting to get this opportunity to be among the referees in this competition,” Del Rosario said. “When I started doing this, I was trying to cope up with the others because they come from more developed refereeing backgrounds in their respective countries. Now, I am happy that the level of our teams is improving and this provides us an opportunity to gain more experience.”
Mamangkey is one of the four International Candidate Referees attending the Asian Women’s Club Championship, together with Chalkasari and Watanabe, and male referee Ahmad Muhammad Fathi of Malaysia. Mamangkey can relate with Del Rosario as they come from the same Southeast Asian region, where there are few female referees in the country.
“I am the only female international candidate referee in Indonesia,” Mamangkey said. “Of course I want to reach the highest level. This opportunity to be in this competition is special for me. It’s great to be in the company of other female referees.”
AVC Continental Referee from Vietnam, Nguyen Thi Than Hoa, appreciates the support of her national federation and the AVC to improve her refereeing skills.
“I work for the national federation and they give me a lot of support to reach a higher level of officiating,” Nguyen said. “I am very happy that there are so many women here. It gives us more chances to discuss and gain more experience.”
The Vietnamese referee is grateful for the opportunity and commends the FIVB and AVC’s drive to promote female referees in international competitions.
“This gives us a boost of confidence, especially for us Asian female referees,” Nguyen said. “It gives us some inspiration to aim for higher achievements. Right now I am an AVC Continental Referee, but I hope someday that I can become the first female Vietnamese international referee.
In case of Japanese referee Watanabe, who belongs to a country that hosts so many international competitions yearly, the number of female referees are also increasing.
“Right now, we have seven female referees in Japan and the number is getting bigger,” Watanabe said. “This gives me a strong feeling as a female that I am now able to share the same field with our male counterparts.”
Watanabe described the more advanced structure in her country.
“We are still in that stage though wherein female referees are still officiating in mid-level competitions, but hopefully more women can officiate in top-level tournaments in the future,” Watanabe said. “The system in Japan is well-organized. We have very experienced International Referees, who teach us. They know the international system very well and they are bringing all of us – male or female – to that level.”
All these female referees agree with one thing – to officiate in FIVB competitions – but they are aware the hard work that it entails to reach the highest level.
“I think it’s good that more female referees can work in international competitions like this,” Kazakh referee Akulova said. “It’s a good experience for us. I hope that we can reach the next stage of officiating a match in FIVB competitions.”
“I aspire to be in the level of female FIVB international referees,” Watanabe added. “But I have to have gain experience in the AVC competitions first, then if I am fortunate, move on to be one of the top female referees in the FIVB.”
Recently, there was a big buzz when two female referees took charge of officiating the women’s gold medal match between China and Serbia in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The female referees aim to reach this level and even aim higher to officiate a men’s match.
“We all want to officiate in a men’s match,” Watanabe said. “But before that, we have to have the skills to control the match. I have to train like the male referees or even exert more effort than them to handle situations in the men’s game. In Japan, they provide us an opportunity to officiate in the men’s competition.”
Akulova and Del Rosario are up for this challenge and take their great exposure in the Asian Women’s Club Championship and other AVC competitions in preparing them for future officiating endeavours.
“I have officiated in two or three men’s competitions,” Akulova said. “There are big differences in the men’s and women’s games. The women’s matches have longer rallies, while the men’s matches are fast-paced, but I think women are ready to officiate the men’s matches. There are a lot of good referees in Asia and I am sure that with proper training and exposure, they will be ready to officiate men’s matches.”
“I believe that female referees can officiate men’s competitions,” Del Rosario said. “There may be differences in style and speed, but I see myself officiating in men’s matches. I trust that the women’s observant eye is a factor when officiating.”
Volleyball has evolved a lot in the last 10 years, which saw great changes in technology, sport presentation, rules and regulations, and in officiating. The constant factor, however, for the referees is to show their compassion for the sport.
“For the referees – male or female – the biggest advice is to love the sport because if you love the sport, you will have the determination to learn and change things for the better. This will help you enjoy yourself more when you officiate the match.”