The annual meeting of the IIHF officiating coaches took place in Barcelona at the end of August and the UK was represented by Joy Johnston and Simon Kirkham.

The meeting brought together 27 IIHF officiating coaches – with 10 IIHF trainee officiating coaches from around the world – for a series of workshops and presentations over two days.

This is a key meeting for the IIHF officiating coaches each year. It provides updates and valuable information to help them perform their role and to set the plan for the season.

The meeting this year represented a new era for the IIHF officiating program for three reasons:

  • The old role title and role of the referee supervisor was replaced with the new role title and role of officiating coaches.
  • Ten new IIHF trainee officiating coaches were identified and introduced for the upcoming season to help widen the pool of officiating coaches for use in the future.
  • A new IT infrastructure was rolled out to support collaborative teamwork and communication across the IIHF officiating coaches team.

IIHF council member and committee chairman, Sergej Gontcharov, said: “The annual officiating coaches meeting provided an interesting program and great opportunities to exchange know-how and learn from each other.

“The officiating coaches play a vital role in the development of game officials, particularly those from developing countries, when mentoring them at the various IIHF events.

“Their evaluations have an important impact on future assignments. The IIHF Officiating Committee depends on their professionalism.

“It is important to act according to the same standards and communicate closely and regularly, a point that will be considerably easier to manage with the ongoing improvements in terms of IT solutions.”

Attendees received presentations from members of the IIHF staff, alongside IIHF officiating committee members, and even heard from some of their colleagues in the room about officiating programs in their countries.

IIHF membership development manager Aku Nieminen led a workshop session on game official-centered coaching and facilitated a discussion on what a quality coaching framework for officials would look like.

Joy Johnston, IIHF officiating coach from Great Britain, said: “This session really allowed us to challenge ourselves in terms of how we coach and the techniques and skills we should be looking to develop as individuals.

“It was great to hear from Aku regarding the coaching tools which have been developed for the playing side, and this has now set the foundations for similar tools to be developed for the officiating program which is an exciting step for us.”

Simon Kirkham added: “It was a great few days and it was excellent to be involved in so many important workshops.

“It is also nice to meet up with many old friends but, most importantly, it was key to compare notes with other federations across the world.”

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