Youth judge programme shortens pathway to international appointment

Five youth judges were part of the officiating team at the 2019 World Archery Youth Championships in Madrid, Spain.

What they all had in common was a love of archery. Some of them have hung up their bows and some keep on shooting – but all want to stay active in the community.  

“What made me a judge? There aren’t too many judges in New Zealand at the moment. I was shooting for about seven years from the age of nine. And when I stopped, it was a shame. I enjoyed it so much, the people were so friendly,” said 25-year-old Andrew Logan.

"I decided to stay in this sport and became a judge. I have been judging for seven years. Somebody encouraged me to become a World Archery judge and here I am.”

Ana Luiza de Mesquita of Brazil stopped shooting competitively when she went to university. But she wanted to remain tied to the sport.

Slovenia’s Klemen Cezar, just like Andrew and Ana, called it a career with his bow. But he feels fond of archery community.

“I didn't want to quit archery completely. By coincidence, an invitation for national judges came and I decided to become a judge just to stay in the sport,” he said.

“I like this community a lot and archery itself as a sport because it’s open to everybody, irrelevant of age or gender.”

Nanaka Matsuyama isn’t finished shooting herself. She’s too young to judge competitions at home in Japan. But she’s young enough to officiate internationally as a  youth judge.

“I am in college. I became a youth judge last year," she said. “My coach from Japan asked me if I wanted to be a youth judge. I answered: ‘yes, okay!’ I’m not a national judge in Japan yet because I have to be at least 28.”

The youth judge programme paves the way for younger people to officiate at the highest level of international competition. They undergo training and then learn from experienced colleagues at events.

“Since I’m the youngest, everyone is very nice and they teach me everything. If I don’t know anything, they are going to be there for me,” said Nanaka, just 19 years of age.

“It’s the second time I’m at an event. Two weeks ago I had an Asian Cup. I was nervous indeed but it was very nice. And here it was just the same. I feel confident, even though I had been nervous before I came.”

Just like many of the athletes on the field of play, making their international debuts, the youth championships in Madrid were the first event for many of the young judges.

"Sometimes youth events can be more stressful. More people have more questions. When you’re an experienced judge, you’ve been doing that for a long time, you tend to know how things run,” said Andrew.

Looking after the younger officials is a head judge, deputy judge and team of experienced judges. Indranil Datta was in charge of the group in Madrid.

It was his responsibility to deliver assignments, check and lead the judges. There’s a lot of preparation.

“There is a high level of excellence, higher than at national competitions. It’s good to be so close to the ideal, to see what we aim to,” she explained.

Andrew recommended joining the youth judge programme if the opportunity presents itself.

“If you want to stay in the archery community, judging is the way to go. You get a range of experience you even don’t get being an archer. It’s genuinely amazing,” he said.

The 2019 World Archery Youth Championships took place on 19-25 August in Madrid, Spain.