Our next IWBF blogger is Ben Wood a referee from Great Britain. Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be Ben’s first Paralympic Games and we are looking forward to hearing how he gets on!

Hi, I’m Ben Wood. I’m 34 years old and I’m a wheelchair basketball referee from Great Britain. I’m really excited to be given the opportunity to blog about my experiences whilst refereeing in Rio this September – it’s my first Paralympic Games and I’m really keen to get started! Since qualifying in 2013, I have been fortunate enough to officiate in a number of tournaments, but never anything like this – it might sound like a cliche, but I feel extremely fortunate to be given this opportunity to work with some of the best officials in the world whilst refereeing some of the best teams in the world. The fact that all this is happening in a country I’ve always wanted to visit makes it even more special!

Being an international referee involves a number of responsibilities. Our main focus is to ensure that the players (and coaches) play the game fairly, ensuring that all participants stay safe. However, our duties do not just start when the game starts. For international competitions, there are 3 referees working each game. Arriving at the arena at least an hour before the scheduled start time, we check the equipment to be used, get changed into our uniforms and have what we call a ‘pre-game meeting’, where we discuss the game ahead, if we have refereed the teams, players or coaches before and share information to assist us in our job ahead. This helps us to all ‘get on the same page’, and is often an unseen aspect of our roles. After our pre-game meeting, we warm up and then go courtside 20 minutes before tip-off to observe the players warming up. It is now that our ‘official’ duties start.

During the game, we position ourselves in a triangular shape to contain and observe all 10 players on the floor. Without going into too much detail, we change positions when we call fouls or when the ball or players move into certain positions. In layman’s terms, the rule for our positioning is ‘go where you need to go to see what you need to see to decide whether to make a call or not’.

After the game, the scoresheet is checked to ensure it is accurate and then we all sign it, signalling the end of our involvement with that particular game. If there has been an observer at the game, we will then go into a debrief meeting to receive feedback and watch video clips of situations that the observer feels will assist us in our next game – I love video feedback because it’s immediate and creates really positive discussions about decisions during the game, especially the mistakes. Taking a USB stick with me everywhere I go, I have vast libraries of clips that I can watch back, as well as using them to show other officials in my role of referee tutor back in Great Britain.

I really hope you enjoy watching the Paralympic Games – I was a spectator at London 2012 and I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I also hope you enjoy reading my offerings over the next few weeks. Many national federations are in need of new referees, so if you think you might like to give it a go, get in touch!