Steve Smith is looking forward to taking responsibility for competitions around the world after qualifying as an International Referee.
Smith completed the International Referee School in Helsinki, which was delayed because of the pandemic, came to an end on Sunday.
It comprised a four-day seminar, including a written exam and interview, leading to the qualification, and was presided over by Werner Thury, Chair of the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee and Referee for the table tennis events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Smith was successful and he now joins four English names on the list of International Referees – Birmingham 2022 referee Karen Tonge OBE, Rio 2016 Olympics referee Stuart Sherlock, Richard Scruton and Mick Strode.
Smith said: “My immediate feeling is relief as I have been extremely nervous the last few days. I am of course very happy and proud to have now achieved this qualification, but I also know there is still a lot to learn and experience as I continue my journey.
“I am now looking to where my first international tournament might be next year in order to take this next step.”
Smith, 41, has been involved in table tennis since his youth, added: “Having been a National Referee for 13 years this was the next step in progression, though it has been some time coming.
“After the disappointment of it not coming in time to be a part of the referee team at the Commonwealth Games in my home city of Birmingham, I have put that to one side and now can look forward to what opportunities there will be for me on the International stage as I look to broaden my refereeing experience.
“Not forgetting where I’ve come from, the club where I started my refereeing journey will aptly be the first venue that I referee at with my new qualification, as I will be the referee for the Cippenham Junior 4* in early December.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey so far. A special mention to Jim Whitehead and Brian Lloyd (both of whom are sadly no longer with us) from the Birmingham area who gave me such an early introduction to tournaments and draws when I was maybe only 11 or 12; and then to Mick Strode who ‘discovered’ me at Cippenham and mentored and pushed me to become a National Referee.”
Table Tennis England Coaching and Education Manager, Aled Howell, said: “A massive congratulations to Steve on completing and passing his ITTF Level 3 International Referee qualification.
“Along with our newly qualified International Umpires he can apply to play a significant role in major events all around the world.
“These recent qualifications provide England with a strengthen presence on the world officiating stage, which supports our ambition to host major international events in England.”