British American Football Referees' Association
The British American Football Referees' Association (BAFRA) is the organisational body for American Football Referees in Britain. BAFRA is affiliated to the British American Football Association (BAFA). The referees' association is manned by a cadre of volunteers and administered by a board of eight directors elected from within the membership on an bi-annual basis (four each year).
BAFRA was established in 1984 and continues to provide game officials for American Football games played in the UK - including the majority of fixtures in the BAFA Community Leagues and the British Universities American Football League. BAFRA members are eligible to officiate in European Federation of American Football fixtures if selected to do so by the organising body. In recent years BAFRA has provided personnel to man the chain crews at NFL International Series games played at Wembley Stadium.
Usually working in crews of 4 or 5 officials during regular season games, officials can be assigned to games anywhere in the UK. Due to the nature of the two main leagues (Regular season April to September, University season October to March) the association is able to officiate games up to 40 weekends each year. National finals 'Bowl' games are usually officiated by a full crew of seven game officials.
The Association's stated aims are five-fold:
- To improve the standard of officiating by training and examination, and by any other means
- To enable all American football games in Britain to have neutral officials
- To promote and uphold the status of officials both collectively and individually
- To co-operate and to cultivate good relations with all bodies concerned with American football, for the betterment of the game
- To take such action or make such representation as an Association, or in conjunction with others as may be considered desirable, in the interests of American football in Britain in general or for the benefit of officials and officiating in particular
The 8 directors of BAFRA are also members (or chair) of several working committees that are convened during the year as required:
- The Rules and Mechanics Committee
- The Grading Committee
- The Examinations Committee (which is a sub-committee of the Grading Committee)
- The Selection Committee
- The Officiating Review Committee
- The Disciplinary Committee
Volunteers are traditionally drawn from former players, coaches and team management personnel who already possess a wide working knowledge of the game, although other volunteers have entered with no previous active background in the sport. However, all new recruits are trained through a planned and progressive system that includes initial courses, follow on courses, one to one coaching by qualified officials and feedback after live game experience. Each official is required to complete an annual proficiency test to demonstrate that their knowledge remains current and adequate to continue with their game duties.
Each regional area has an appointed and experienced Training Officer who is directly responsible to the Director of Training for the training and effectiveness of the local volunteer officials within the region.
An annual convention is held (typically in March or April), during which a number of training videos and breakout sessions are conducted, together with the Annual General Meeting. A guest speaker is invited to participate—to mark the association's 25th anniversary in 2009, the guest speaker was Greg Gautreaux, the field judge at Super Bowl XLIII.
To enable BAFRA to cover the costs of providing officials for any UK game a schedule of fees is charged and reviewed on an annual basis. Each game fee includes an organisational administration fee, plus a sum for each official attending (to cover their transportation costs and expenses). Trainee officials are remunerated at a lower rate than qualified officials. Fees are either block pre-paid by a team at the start of the season, or settled separately on each home game day no later than 30 minutes after the game ends.
The John Slavin Trophy
John Slavin was a long-serving BAFRA official and also a director of the Association, who died in October 2005. In his memory BAFRA dedicated an annual award to be made to any UK team that shows commitment to improving the game experience for players and fans, as well as officials. The criteria for the award is decided at the start of each season by the managing committee to reflect varying aspects of game management that would benefit from improvement.
Previous winners of the trophy
- 2006 - Edinburgh Wolves
- 2007 - Southampton Stags
- 2008 - Oxford Saints
- 2009 - Edinburgh Wolves
- 2010 - Bedfordshire Blue Raiders
Within its website BAFRA publishes an open weekly online newsletter called Newsflash that includes items of interest, notices of appointment, game reports, disciplinary decisions and any rule changes.
- "BAFRA Newsflash Issue: 08/10". BAFRA. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- "Super Bowl official to mark BAFRA's silver jubilee". British American Football Association. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- BAFRA homepage