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Michael Bate knows surf sports. A long-standing and passionate member spanning the Illawarra, Sydney Northern Beaches and even Western Australian, Michael has been part of almost every sports discipline in our movement and has been an official since 1978. There is no one more qualified to deliver what is set to be one of the most complex events of our time as referee of the 2021 NSW Age Championships. With his experience and pure love of surf sports events, Michael has inspiring confidence about the four-day event.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges this year Michael, and how can people help to make it a great event?

We have a reduced program this year so what we’d usually have run for the Nippers is a three-day program of events and this year we only have two days for each age group under the NSW Health provisions. What I’d say people can do to help is be on time, listen for program changes and consult Team App – our main form of live communications throughout the event.

What do you love about surf sports events?

In 2020 it was 51 years since I first became involved. Surf Life Saving has given me and my family a lot of enjoyment so for me it’s about giving back to a sport that’s given me so much in my life.

I joined as a cadet (1971) when I was 15 years old with the Towradgi Turtles and got my Bronze Medallion when I was 18 with Fairy Meadow SLSC and since that time have been on quite a journey. Although I wasn’t great at any one discipline in surf sports, I was described by someone at my club as a good sport instead of good at sport. I filled in everywhere but never got in a surf boat.

What’s the best part about part of the officials family?

The camaraderie and great friends I’ve made along the way, we’ve spent a long time together on and off the beach now and surf sports events like State Champs give us a great opportunity to catch up.

What’s something that people don’t commonly know about what officials do?

Preparation. It’s years, months and weeks of preparation to ensure the smooth running of the State Championship events, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. The team has been working on the next year’s event from the day we finish each year.

There is a lot of time that goes into liaising with senior officials through to SLSNSW staff who put the event together as well as the host club (Swansea Belmont and this year Redhead) that give you background to weather and conditions. Swansea Belmont know and live what’s happening on their beach so we depend on them heavily. It’s complicated this year with NSW health regulations but we’re all so committed to delivering a successful, fun and memorable event. That can only come about with organisation and good team-work.

I want everyone to come off the beach and think ‘what a great four days!’ At the end of the day, it’s not all about the medals, everyone looks forward to coming to State Champs to catch up with old friends, making new friendships and have fun participating in the sport.

Michael Bate with Freshwater officials
Michael Bate (far left) with Sydney Northern Beaches Officials.