IMMAF on the Move: Update from the UK – Part 1

UKMMAF Referees Course: A Review

The United Kingdom Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UKMMAF) recently launched its official UKMMAF Referees Course, which took place for the very first time on 11th and 12th July at Outlaw MMA gym in Gloucestershire (UK). On announcement of the dates, enough people rapidly subscribed to fill 3 course events, and 2 further sets of dates were imminently added. The two day course serves to earn participants a UKMMAF referees license that permits them to referee at upcoming IMMAF and UKMMAF Amateur MMA competitions within the UK, dependant on experience. It will also license them to referee on future UKMMAF sanctioned events when full sanctioning comes into play in the near future, based also on registered experience. The UKMMAF Referees Course contains both theoretical and practical training followed by a 40 minute examination. The organisation is also currently working to develop opportunities for students to shadow at UK events to build up experience and required hours to be eligible for a basic level license. Ongoing professional development pathways are also being put together Instructor Mark Woodard explained, “As far as I know, this is the only course in the UK that focuses solely on the role of the MMA referee. It is an in depth exploration of the role that takes 16 hours to complete. The course focuses on every single facet of the job through discussion and research, and at the end of the course there is a multiple choice exam covering all of the topics. There is also a practical/scenario based section where different problems are posed and reacted to by the guys on the course. The aim of the course is to provide the UKMMAF with a bank of qualified referees that have been trained to a high standard, and alongside a progression pathway this will ensure that no one is put in to officiate on a promotion until they are competent enough to do so. I believe we already have some of the best officials in the world in the UK, which enables us to deliver world class education.” The course has been written by the UKMMAF Regulatory Affairs Committee that comprises among its experienced referees Mark Woodard, Leon Roberts, Neil Hall and Marc Goddard. The first course event was attended by a number of established and experienced UK and UFC referees including Leon Roberts, Grant Waterman, Neil Hall, David Swann and Andrew Nichols. Reflecting on the inaugural course, Mark Woodard commented: “The first course was, in my opinion, a massive success with a Who’s Who of UK refs in attendance. The most useful part of the course was the interaction between the group. The dynamics were fantastic with a lot of salient points being highlighted. It became blatantly clear that a referee’s convention needs to be held every year for issues to be highlighted and discussed.” Among feedback from the referees who attended, Nathan Webb stated: “Mark played his role perfectly, developing discussion, playing devil’s advocate which made us all look at things in a very different way. From the old dinosaurs to the young pups and all in between we all took a great deal from the two days.” Neil Hall agreed, “Debate made us realise where further improvements can be made. Everyone in attendance had valid input and contributed.” UFC referee, Leon Roberts, summarised: “Increasing referees’ knowledge base and skill set will only serve to make MMA a safer sport. Spending time in open discussion and debate where everyone had a voice and opinion that was respectfully listened to and acknowledged was great to witness. Looking at making positive amendments to a rule set to provide clarity and being able to be proactive in moving MMA forward in the UK was interesting and worthwhile. Spending time with officials you don’t get to work with sharing ideas and experiences was enlightening and enjoyable……Last but by no means least, to Mark’s students who fought numerous 3 minute rounds demonstrating foul after foul in order to be assessed by the refs – you did your teacher proud.” Fellow UFC referee Grant Waterman agreed, ‘The more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know’. Andrew Nichols, said: “It was an honour to be part of this historic event. It’s clear from everyone you speak to in the MMA community that it’s a passion that drives them to the sport. Mark’s 2 day course was well ran and informative with a few spanners to keep us on our toes. I would recommend this course to any official out on the circuit..you will be amazed at some of the things you let slip, or to hear a different point of view.” The official UKMMAF Referees course is open to applicants from both within the UK and abroad. For more information contact info@ukmmaf.org.uk   [/spb_text_block]

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