Yesterday I had a handful of kids enter a local karate tournament.
For most of them it was their first competition and the results were good – one gold, two silver and a bronze, so I was happy for them – and they were stoked.
One thing however that happened yesterday (which happens far more often than it should) was a screw up at the official’s table.
One of my young fighters won his first fight 8-1 which was a great result. The referee announced him as the winner, “Aka. No kachi!” and signalled to his side indicating victory. So far so good, Bryan was through to round 2.
Bryan took a seat with the other kids at the side of the tatami and patiently waited for his name to be called for his second fight. As I had other kids competing on other arenas I was trying to keep an eye on 3 courts at once.
When I returned to Bryan’s court after watching one of the other kids I asked him, “Bryan have you had your second fight yet?”
“No”, he replied.
“Hmmmm”, I thought as I saw another competitor come up for his second fight.
I told Bryan to listen carefully for his name and that I’d be back in a moment.
When I returned and saw the same kid fighting his THIRD fight, I again asked Bryan, “Have you had your second fight yet?”
“No”, he repeated.
“Has the kid you defeated in round 1 had a second fight?”, I asked thinking something was up.
“Yes”, said Bryan.
“Ok. Wait here a second”, I told him as I jumped over the “caution tape”, ran over to the official’s table where I looked over the shoulder of the guy in charge of the draw. From the draw sheet I could see that they were just about to run the final. I also saw that in the first bracket of the draw, they’d circled the WRONG fighter (the kid Bryan had beaten) as the winner.
Needless to say that after much embarrassment from the officials and many apologies, they verified Bryan as the winner of the round 1 fight by asking both him and the kid he fought who had won. Thank goodness Bryan’s opponent was honest!
The head referee fixed the problem by having Bryan fight the kids that his first opponent had fought. As it turns out my student placed third in his division, which was ok for him. The issue is that he WOULD have placed 16th had I not been keeping an eye on his court!
Mistakes happen, but your role as a coach is to ensure that when they do they get fixed quickly. Don’t be afraid to speak up, question the officials, or do whatever you have to do to ensure the correct action is taken.
As the head referee said to me yesterday, “Thanks for bringing it to our attention. It’s better we found this out now and NOT after the medals had been given.”