Recruiting, educating, and deploying officials to meet growing demand for basketball

Basketball England held an important meeting of its Officiating Advisory Group (OAG) at the National Cup Finals to step up efforts to improve the supply and standard of officiating for basketball.  

The OAG, a body of experts which supports and advises on BE’s officiating strategy, reviewed three key officiating areas: 

  • A Basketball England North West Region pilot, which includes a model to increase the flow of newly-recruited officials through BE’s ‘REDD’ Strategy – Recruit, Educate, Develop, Deploy 
  • The promotion of officiating success stories and role models 
  • Entry level qualification courses 


Stewart Kellett, CEO Basketball England, said:  

“Most sports are challenged by a shortage of officials to support their game, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The shortfall is hampering the game, so more urgency, support and smarter ways to recruit and retain officials are required. It was great to hear of initial successes and further plans this weekend and be part of the energy to do more to support current and new officials.  

“It was clear at the OAG meeting that working with better systems and service to improve the recruitment and development of more officials at local, regional and national levels, while shedding light on their input and achievements, is vital.” 

North West Region Pilot 

In the North West Region, BE has piloted a new programme, part of which addresses the recruitment, education, development and deployment of officials via the REDD programme – making it faster and more efficient for them to be supported into active officiating. 

This feeds into BE’s nationwide REDD programme to create an adequate supply of quality officials to meet the healthy and growing demand for basketball.  

Regional manager Kate Lewis and her team in the North West have collaborated with clubs and referees using entrepreneurial methods and incentives in a referees recruitment drive.  

The impact has seen the qualification of over 80 new referees, who are being regularly deployed across games in the North West. 

Kate Lewis said: 

“It’s working seamlessly because all stakeholders are working together to make sure there’s enough development of officials to service the game. The big thing is that clubs better understand their role in the process of putting forward candidates for officiating courses.   

“Officials feel better supported too, for instance we're putting very new referees in the regional leagues, and we've got a culture in those leagues that focuses on all learning together. So, coaches, players, etc accept that referees are allowed to make mistakes. The icing on the cake, however, is having a team of refereeing coaches, who go out across the region to mentor our new and established officials, continuing their professional development. 

“Overall, I can see the programme making a huge impact across the regions once it's rolled out.” 

Nick Ibberson of the Lancashire Spinners, said:

“NW REDD is invaluable and interactive in that if you know which games are likely to be difficult then appropriate referees are appointed. Referee development and coaching of referees is very good. We need all Regions to function as the North West has. The contrast between now and pre-Covid is like chalk and cheese.” 

The North West pilot scheme, which has also examined Regional Management Committee (RMC) reform and competition structure, will be reviewed at a Basketball England Board meeting on 23 February with an aim of a wider roll-out across England to build on the efforts of regions and clubs across England. 

Success stories 

BE will profile officiating, sharing the success stories to recognise its importance and help attract more people to officiating. 

Entry-level qualifications 

Since COVID, BE’s officiating Level 1 and 2 courses have been delivered through a hybrid online/in-person model.  

It has been recognised adjustments are required to the way these courses are delivered to improve the quality of the candidate journey.  

Have your say

If you would like to give feedback on the issues in this article or any wider matter relating to our officiating workforce, please email us.

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