Olympic Feature - Jane Wheatley
How long have you been refereeing?
Approximately 16 years. I was thrown in the deep end and asked to referee the June Bevan Carnival & U17 Championships held in Adelaide in 1995. A baptism of fire as this is the largest Australian team event. I received a lot of encouragement from Roy Ward and this support pushed me along the referee pathway.
How did you start in badminton?
I began playing badminton in the local Scout Hall in the small country town of Denmark in Western Australia. I played on Tuesday Ladies Day with my two little children in tow and loved the sport.
Apart from refereeing what are your hobbies?
I struggle to put the task of refereeing in the category of a hobby. I see it as a job with huge responsibilities to the organisers and players. As I am now retired from the workforce I have time to enjoy reading, travelling, friendships and my family who now include six grandchildren under the age of 6yrs. I am currently Secretary/Treasurer of the Badminton Ass of Western Australia Technical Officials Committee and also a member of Badminton Australia Technical Officials Committee.
If someone wants to referee in your country what is the procedure?
For anyone interested in a career of refereeing Australia has a recognised pathway which begins by working with qualified referees at local tournaments. The pathway then moves through to team carnivals and championships, Badminton Australia individual championships and BWF International events. At all times the trainee is mentored and gradually completes practical and theory assessment along the way. It is a lengthy process but one that endeavours to produce well trained referees.
What is for you the funniest or the most frustrating moment on court as a Referee?
Frustration – turning up for an event and finding out equipment etc does not meet BWF standards despite asking the question months ago and being advised that everything is in order and you now have one day to get things fixed.
Recently you were nominated to officiate at the 2012 London Olympics. What does this mean for you and your family?
With only a few days to go before London it still feels like a dream. To be appointed as a referee at the Olympics for an official in any sport is the pinnacle of a career. Just seeing my name in the BWF Statutes book in the section of Certificated Referees makes me feel very proud. I would expect that all officials who set off along this journey aspire to reach the top group and I have seen the immense personal pride this brings to those officials who make the grade.
My family and friends are extremely proud of my achievements and simply look at me with amazement.
Anything else you would like to add? Any positive elements of travelling to events around the world, meeting people, etc.
Being a referee is not a job for everyone. You have to like people, have patience, be prepared to be a little flexible and to be ready to work long hours. Family, friends and the general public just see the referee sitting at a desk and believe “it’s a piece of cake”. It is a tough gig. The travelling around the world is a bonus and we do meet wonderful people. For me....I love the challenge of a major event, the adrenalin gets going and I am off and running months out from a tournament to the moment of the final match and the winning point.
For anyone interested in being a referee I would say “Have a go, you have nothing to lose, plenty to gain and what a journey along the way”.