During Women’s History Month, seven women, one from each Special Olympics Region, shared their unique stories of what it was like to participate in and plan a World Games.
What World Games were you involved in and what was your role?
I was in the most recent World Games in 2019 in Abu Dhabi. I was there as an official for basketball.
What training do you have to complete to be an official at World Games?
I am an International Basketball Federation (FIBA) accredited referee since 2014 and have had the opportunity to officiate at quite a number of Regional tournaments. During these tournaments, we have qualified referee supervisors who use this time to assist us to improve and emphasize the rules and the interpretation of these rules.
I believe that at the World Games level, it is quite necessary to have referees who have a good understanding of the rules and the right experience to do so. When applying to be a referee at the World Games, we had to indicate our training, our level and the experience that we have.
How can we increase the participation of female officials in Special Olympics?
This can be done through intentional communication to the women sport commissions in different countries to introduce Special Olympics, the sporting codes, ethos, etc. Once female commissions are in, they can then spread the word in the countries collaboratively with the Special Olympics body in the country. Secondly, have a Special Olympics women commission in the countries that has the sole purpose of identifying, recruiting and training women officials. If this was introduced in Botswana, for example, it is something I would be more than happy to coordinate hand in hand with Special Olympics Botswana.
What advice would you share with women who aspire to be in a role like yours?
I would let them know that the road may be long and tough, but at the end of it all, it is more than worth it. I would let them know that they have to just be true to themselves and set a goal for where they want to get to if the playing field was levelled. After they imagine that, they should put in the effort and do what they can to make it happen.
Who is your female role model?
Amongst many others, on this occasion I would pick Michelle Obama because though she was married to a 'powerful' man, she never cowered or bowed or made herself invisible. She continued to be an amazing person and inspiration to many around the globe. Her presence was felt, her intelligence was noticed.