Q&A with Marisa Baird: BEC’s Line Judge Representative

In June 2022, Marisa was approached and asked if she would like to be the first Line Judge representative on Badminton Europe’s Events Committee’s Sub Committee for Technical Officials.

Following a committee meeting in Indonesia (while at the Indonesia Open 2022), Marisa’s appointment was ratified.

With 14 officials from Scottish badminton now set to help at Birmingham 2022, we caught up with Marisa on this great achievement, and you can read her Q&A below.

Can you give us a little bit of background about your passion for badminton and how you became a line judge…?

Marisa started playing very early on in life at school then went on to university just enjoying playing the sport. She has two daughters who she wanted to learn to play, so they went along to the local junior badminton club in Lanark where the girls were both coached by John Barrie.

It was here Marisa started to help out at the club and was encouraged by John to do a coaching qualification. Shortly after this, Marisa got her club coach qualifications with Russell and Bill Hogg and has been doing club and coaching for about 18 years – Marisa has unfortunately had to take a step down from coaching because of an injury she had a couple of years ago.

In 2007, Marisa took her daughters along to the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Sudiman Cup being held at Scotstoun and that was where she became aware of line judging for the first time.

“After the BWF Sudiman Cup, I did a course, became a Scottish line judge and was invited to many local events – that’s how you get started and then you realise that you can do global events and it’s just about sticking in and trying to get chosen to go abroad”.

“Over the years I’ve been to various events all over the world, India, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Denmark, France and Singapore … eight years ago I became an International Technical Official, so I’ve been working with the Badminton World Federation at many major championships, it’s just a great opportunity and my highlight was officiating at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021”.

What is your favourite thing about being a line judge?

“Firstly, being close to the action because that’s what it’s all about. However, being involved in the wider community aspect of the sport and meeting new people at different tournaments is just fantastic”.

Marisa tells us that at the centre of being a line judge is officiating for players and seeing their development – “I’ve been doing it so long; I’ve seen players come right through the system and it’s great to see players that you saw at a young age, competing now at world level. It’s a real pleasure and privilege to see their progression”.

Is there a standout memory/experience from your time officiating?

One of Marisa’s favourite moments was at the 2022 All England Men’s Doubles semi-final – “the wall of noise and atmosphere was just incredible; we’ve missed it so much in the last two years. It reminded me of how exciting it is to be there and be part of the whole system”.

Marisa also tells us about a special moment at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 at The Emirates Arena. “A match was being played between players from Singapore and Indonesia and there weren’t many home nation supporters, so one side of the arena decided to support Singapore and the other Indonesia… the noise, the excitement… it was just brilliant.”

What do you most look forward to about Birmingham 2022?

“One of the amazing things about the Commonwealth Games is that people who might never have a chance to play in an event like this get the opportunity. When I was at Glasgow 2014, there was a team made up of a mum, dad, son and another player… they didn’t win anything, but they were there and they were competing, it was just fantastic and that’s what it’s all about.”

“For me it’s not always about the gold-medal winner, it’s sometimes just about the people who take part and make the event and the sport just what it is.”

What does it mean for Scottish badminton to have 14 officials travelling to the Games?

“I think it’s fantastic for Scottish badminton to have fourteen court officials who are qualified and experienced enough to take part in this multisport event at this level. It’s a real reflection on how well Badminton Scotland Court Officials are looked upon in the world of badminton and wider sporting community.”

On a personal note, Marisa tells us how great it is for some of the officials who perhaps would never get an opportunity to be involved at a big event like this for a number of factors, including age, other commitments, not wanting to travel abroad etc. She says, “It’s great going abroad on your own because everyone is lovely, but it will be nice to have so many Scots in Birmingham, they’re a wonderful team.”

What advice would you give to young volunteers or anyone thinking about becoming an official?

“I would say ‘go for it’, we’ve had a number of young people throughout the years come along and try line judging, thoroughly enjoy it but then they move on because they go to university or get a job and move away. Hopefully at some point, when they are more settled in life, they will join an officiating team again”

Marisa highlights that there’s still plenty of opportunities at any time in your life to be a court official and that age is not a factor that should hold you back – “you don’t have to be young, you don’t have to be old, you just have to want to do it and enjoy the experience that comes with it.”

“Yes, we do under 13 events on a Sunday morning at the Sir Craig Reedie Badminton Centre, but that’s the bread and butter, to get you to the higher and more prestigious events. It’s in these moments you get to see young people playing at under 13 and then 10 years later, you’re watching them at the Commonwealth Games, and you feel you are part of their journey.”

A good luck message to our athletes playing in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games…

“When officiating, you’re not always aware of who is on court because you’re watching the lines, but we will be backing and supporting our players the whole way – in a totally neutral way, of course!”

“It’s great so many Scots have got a place at the Commonwealth Games, it’s well deserved and they’re doing fantastic on the world stage, so just “bring it on in Birmingham and all the best to them.”

Marisa would also like to make a special mention to Tak Yan Yau who trained as a Line Judge last year and has since officiated at many Scottish events, including the Scottish Open. He was originally included on the waiting list for the Commonwealth Games but has been asked to attend the full event – “We know that he’ll have an amazing time with plenty of support from the rest of us there, it’s a great event for him to start off his international journey and I’m really pleased for him, we all are”.

Badminton Scotland would like to wish all the best to our officials and hope all representatives have a great time in Birmingham.

If you would like the share a story or special achievement about your club, community, event or activity, please get in touch with grania@badmintonscotland.org.uk so we can feature it on our website.

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