WTF holds coach-referee Training Camp focused on Rio 2016
MUJU, Korea (May 5, 2016) – Just 104 days in advance of the taekwondo competition kicking off in Brazil, the World Taekwondo Federation, or WTF, opened a training camp for both referees and coaches.
WTF World Taekwondo Coach and Referee Joint Training Camp for Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was the second such event; the inaugural joint camp was held in advance of the London 2012 Olympics, widely considered taekwondo’s finest hour. WTF President Chungwon Choue called the camp “the secret to the success” of the London competition.
Sessions was presided over by the WTF Referee Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat, WTF Games Committee Chairman Philippe Bouedo, WTF Medical Committee Chairman Paul Viscogliosi and attended by WTF Technical & Development Committee Chairman Kook Hyun Jung. The 4-day camp features presentations, simulation training, video analyses, group discussions and question-and-answer sessions on topics that include rules, scoring, video replays, appeals, scoring and timing technologies, anti-doping and medical procedures.
Some role-play workshops put coaches into the referee’s position, and referees into the coach’s position. “Everyone has to understand the jobs of their colleagues,” said Bouedo. “It is all about making connections between the different actors.”
Taekwondo has been constantly innovating since London, which means there will be a number of Olympic firsts in Rio.
Combat will take place on an octagonal, rather than a square fighting area, encouraging more active footwork. Electronic sensors have been added to head protectors, upgrading the fairness and transparency of scoring.
Athletes will also be able to wear uniform pants in their national colors, rather than the plain white of the past, adding a splash of visual flair to the arena.
Even so, the changes to the game, which have been made between 2012 and 2016 and widely road-tested in a range of championships, are not new for referees and the coaches, making the camp more of a refresher course.
“These changes have already been put in practice, mainly after the 2015 World Championships, so the coaches and athletes are familiar with them,” said WTF Sport Director Jay Lee. ”This camp is about emphasizing these changes and allowing discussions between referees and coaches.”
Communication is another key goal. Though all attendees actively photographed presentation slides, the referees seemed fully briefed; most questions during the sessions came from the coaches.
“For us, this is basically to get understanding of the level of the coaches’ knowledge, so we know what to expect,” said one of the referees in attendance. “There are areas that are still a little confused, so in those areas, we have to pay special attention.”
“We have to be on the same page as the refs,” added Molodovan Coach Patrice Remarck. “We will voice our opinions and get some clarification.”
Attendees praised the camp concept.
“It is very good what the WTF are doing, this meeting of coaches and referees,” said Serbian Coach Dragan Jovic. “Direct communication is the best way to take taekwondo up.”
“Years ago, it was not so easy to talk to referees, and the other way round; people felt personally attacked,” said Swedish Coach Markus Kohlaeffel. “Now, it is one team together, we are educating ourselves as a community.”
Peruvian IOC Member Ivan Dibos praised the WTF, noting that while that the IOC aims for at least 20 percent female referees, the WTF is fielding 15 male and 15 female international referees in Rio.
Djibouti IOC Member and National Olympic Committee President Aicha Garad Ali was impressed by the camp itself, saying, “I have never seen this before in any international federation.” She echoed Dibos regarding the WTF’s referee recruitment, noting that gender equality is part of the IOC’s Agenda 2020.
The camp is taking place at Taekwondowon, a dedicated facility set in rolling countryside three hours south of Seoul. “This is like Disneyworld!” Dibos said in recognition of the investment the center represents. “I have never seen anything like it in any other sport.”
A final WTF referees-only camp will be held prior to Rio in late June or early July. The location has not yet been decided.