by Mark Wasson
It takes a community to grow powerlifting. From day one when the CPU was founded until now every meet and championship only happened as a result of for the most part of volunteers. Whether it was meet directors, referees, meet technical staff, or platform crew the greatest asset the organization has is the ability to gather like-minded individuals to volunteer to help promote and grow the sport. The sheer number of hours required to organize a meet and then execute are enormous. This number is only getting larger with the popularity of the sport and the increase expected standard of competitions that competitors have grown to expect. With the National Championships surpassing 500 participants now in Canada, and even Central Championships reaching 371, the volume of work is not decreasing in order to properly execute these meets.
The CPU has likely around 3,000 members and has only 65 national or higher level referees. I see this as a great way for experienced lifters and coaches to give back to the sport and expand their technical knowledge at a higher level. To do so each province has an establish path to help develop a provincial level referee into a national level referee but this number needs to grow. Each province has a referee chairperson who has the responsibility for testing new provincial level referees within their provincial affiliate. Testing usually consists of a written and a practical. If this is something that interests you than I urge you to read the 2019 IPF Technical Rulebook and to reach out to your provincial chairperson to start the process.
If you do not want to be a referee but still want to compete I believe everyone should volunteer a few times a year on the platform or running the meet computer. Although not glamourous these task need to be done and done well to ensure lifter safety and to keep lifters coming back. It can be a humbling experience with the physical drain of loading and unloading and the mental awareness to ensure to not let the bar crush someone. Regardless of level of lifting experience this is a vital job that needs to be executed to a high standard to ensure the safety of the lifters.
Another great way to give back to powerlifting within your province or nationally is to run and be on the provincial/national executive teams. These positions can help shape the way powerlifting is managed within the province/country and are often thankless jobs. However, without these there would not be a direction of the sport and ultimately no platform for lifters to compete. Executive teams are made up of many positions (media, treasurer, VP, President, Referee Chairperson, etc) and usually people hold the positions for 2-3 years at a time. This can be a great place to inject new experiences and points of view to help shape the sport for the masses.
Next up if you are adventurous and want a challenge, become a meet director. No task for the faint of heart but one that be extremely self-rewarding. Putting on a show and providing a platform for competitors to execute often months of work is an important task that needs to be taken seriously and executed with proficiently. From finding a venue, sourcing all the platform and technical equipment, coordination with referees, and providing all the stuff required for a quality lifter experience all takes time and someone to give up their time to manage. I suggest trying to partner with a more experienced meet director at first or shadow someone to learn the proper timing and sequencing of the task before requesting your first meet sanction request.
In the end if you want to compete you need to realize that it is only made possible through volunteers. Next meet you intend to lift at please ensure to find some way to give back and volunteer your time to assist in the meet by becoming a referee, or working the platform after your session. No one is above volunteering and it truly shows one’s character to give up one’s time to help something they want to see grow and succeed. If we want powerlifting to continue to grow in Canada we need to ensure we are all doing our part to make it better.