To celebrate Volunteers' Week we're shining the spotlight on some of our brilliant referees. Here, Steve Martin of Honto Judo shares his judo and refereeing journey...

How did you get into judo?

I started at around 10 years of age but for one reason or another stopped after a couple of years. It was only at the age of 42, after my son had started attending a local karate club that I decided to give it another go. I think tying my son’s belt for him had triggered some dormant memories and so I sought out a local club and joined up, starting from afresh as a white belt.

When and how did you get into refereeing/ officiating?

It was in early 2019 when I was looking through the WJA events calendar, that I came across an area/club referee course that was being held locally. I was keen to progress my knowledge of competition rules as I had fought in a few competitions myself at the time. My daughter had also started competing regularly so I signed up. It wasn’t my intention at the time to actually become a referee but Neil Lawcock encouraged me to take my practical exam at a local competition and a couple of weeks later, I had a shiny referee badge and a British Judo tie.

What motivates you as a referee/ official?

The money, it’s all about the money!

OK, so there’s no money in refereeing, at least not at area level but I really enjoy being on the judo scene, meeting new people, making new friends as well as connecting with old friends and seeing the progress of the local players.

Also, knowing that events can’t run without officials and that there are precious few of them to go around, I feel that it is important to make the effort to ensure that young up and coming players get the best tournament experience they can. I’m not a seasoned athlete nor am I skilled in the ways of performance coaching but I am pretty good at understanding rules, so being able to help out in this regard gives me a sense of satisfaction.

It’s also a good excuse to dress up in a smart suit.

What has been your favourite judo memory?

I haven’t got an extensive judo history from which to draw from but I had a proud father moment when my daughter, who was 9 at the time, was asked to demonstrate a technique at the judo eisteddfod in Cardiff back in early 2020.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into refereeing / officiating?

It’s great fun and very rewarding. Yes, it is quite daunting stepping onto a mat and being responsible for scoring techniques and yes, you will get things wrong. Judo can be very fast moving and you might not be standing in the right place at the right time to see everything but you aren’t all alone out there on the mat; You have the support of the refereeing team at the table who will back you up or set you straight. 

A big thank you to Steve and all of our countless volunteers for all your bring to our judo community. We would be lost without you! Find out how to get involved here.

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