‘It has been a long journey, but I am really pleased to be here, finally!’
For Lisa Harrison last weekend was the realisation of a lifetime goal when she gained her international refereeing license and became an IJF referee. Lisa had to travel to the Santo Domingo PanAmerican Open in the Dominican Republic for her final examination, but the journey started long before when she attended a refereeing course aged 10 at Chichester Judo Club arranged by Karen French.
At the time Lisa didn’t particularly want to be a referee, but after attending her first mini mon competition, which she loved, she hasn’t looked back.
‘If I’m honest I enjoyed having a bit of power and being able to tell my friends what to do. Refereeing gave me the chance to go to competitions that I was too high a grade for with my friends, and I was fortunate that in Sussex we had lots of junior referees.’
As Lisa progressed, she was supported by Alan Lingham and Chris Mullen, they would take her all over the UK and abroad when they refereed, which was invaluable in terms of experience and gave Lisa the opportunity to meet the wider refereeing community.
‘The BJA, or more specifically the National Refereeing Commission, have enabled me to experience competitions abroad. In the beginning as I progressed to a national referee Neil Lawcock and Roger Down accompanied me and others abroad in order to improve our refereeing and give us the experience of higher-level foreign events. As I have become more experienced, I have been fortunate enough to go to numerous European Cups and Opens and have been selected for four European Championships at Cadet, Junior and Veteran levels which the BJA supported me to go to.’
‘The BJA provide funding to enable us to do two international events per year. However, in order to gain the exposure required to progress, we must self-fund to some competitions. The BJA has also funded my exams and always allowed me to go to whatever events I feel I require.’
Lisa becomes only the third British female to attain her IJF-A referee license and the first female to grade from BJA Junior through to IJF-A referee. Lisa’s husband Martin (pictured left) incidentally was the first male to grade from BJA Junior through to IJF-A referee last year meaning Lisa and Martin are the first British husband and wife to hold IJF-A licences by exam.
‘I have worked really hard to be the best I can be and while I have taken some knocks along the way, I always hoped that I would get here someday.’
‘Going forward I am now setting some new goals for myself. Obviously, I would like to go as high as I can as a referee and in the short term get to a senior Europeans. I am hopeful that over the next few years I will have the opportunity to referee at an IJF tournament.’
‘Closer to home, I am hoping that other young referees will want to follow in my footsteps, and I can help mentor them through the system and offer advice.’
Lisa is now due to travel to the Junior European Championships in Finland which run from 12th-14th September.