Australian junior fencers have benefited from an FIE-qualified international referee at their national championship for the first time, with Hao Chih (Howard) Huang travelling from Chinese Taipei for the 2019 Junior Championships under the AFF’s expanded referee mentoring program.
The international referee initiative gives Australian referees training and development on home soil. Athletes are winners too, with regular exposure to the current rules’ application and the phrasing of fencing actions supporting their performance overseas.
Previously, the use of FIE-qualified international referees had been limited to national open events. The AFF extended the program to age-based tournaments in mid-2018.
The AFF also subsidised four Australian referees to travel for their FCA C licence in 2018 and appointed additional Senior Referees, who are paid an extra allowance, to help run national tournaments.
These initiatives are part of a broader plan to develop a pool of highly-qualified local officials, supporting international standard tournaments for all Australians to enjoy. And they’ve come at no extra cost to athletes.
Australia’s guest for the 2019 Junior Championships, Howard Huang, is FIE (B) qualified in all three weapons and formed part of the international referee pool at the Junior Epee World Cup and Senior Foil World Cup in Tokyo last month.
He was invited to Melbourne on the recommendation of AFF Referee Director Emanuele Bucca from the Italian Fencing Federation.
Howard proved to be a confident and articulate teacher, observing Australian referees in action across the three-day tournament and advising on video reviews of event finals as needed. He ran short training sessions each morning before events started using video analysis, giving targeted and constructive advice to our local officials.
As a bonus, Howard also raised the bar in the style stakes with his eye-catching haircut. We look forward to seeing how his ‘do’ might translate to the local referee scene in the coming months.