The aim of the Coloured Shirt Program is to make beginner/inexperienced officials easily recognisable to all players, coaches and spectators with the objective that people will identify these officials are learning and will be tolerant of mistakes.
Most sports have difficulty recruiting, training and retaining officials. Between 1997 and 2001, the number of officials in Australian sport dropped 26%. A recent survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission identified that harassment, abuse and lack of respect for officials were major causes of the declining number of people officiating.
In an effort to improve the retention of officials in South Australia, the Office for Recreation and Sport piloted a Coloured Shirt Program, which was based on a program that had been initiated by the SA National Football League. Basketball South Australia was involved in the pilot, which demonstrated improved results in retaining officials.
On the basis of the positive feedback regarding the pilot, Basketball Australia, with the support of each state/territory association, has now launched the Coloured Shirt Program, which is available to all affiliated associations.
The program intends to supports local associations to retain learner officials through the provision of a variety of tools and support mechanisms, including the use of a brightly coloured shirt worn by new officials to identify them as a learner or beginner. There are posters and cards available to associations that remind players, coaches and spectators “not to see red” if an official does make a mistake.
Associations participating in the program will also have access to a range of tools that will help them to implement, administer and evaluate the program. Associations are encouraged to identify mentors for beginning officials who can lend a “friendly ear” and provide feedback to the official as they learn their craft.
Associations wanting more information, or to be involved in the program, should contact their state/territory association.
Basketball Australia thanks the SA Office for Recreation and Sport for their permission to utilise materials in the program.