Sources of Stress and Coping Strategies of Active Rugby Union Referees in Kenya
Muamba, Johnbosco Kioko
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Rugby referees have for a long time volunteered to officiate matches in Kenya yet refereeing as an activity is stressful. It is an activity whereby the work environment is often unfriendly, performance is publicly scrutinized, and decisions elicit long debates. The purpose of this study was to investigate the sources of stress that affect active rugby union referees in Kenya and the subsequent coping strategies they adopt to persist in the activity. The study assessed the impact of age, gender and experience the active referees had on their respective sources of stress and coping strategies. Cross-sectional descriptive research design was adopted to assess the sources of stress and coping strategies of referees of different age, gender and experience. The respondents were active rugby union referees in Kenya whereby a target of 80 referees active during the 2016 / 2017 Kenya Rugby Union season were involved in the study. Self-administered questionnaires were used to collect data. Data was summarised using percentages, mean values and standard deviations. The null hypotheses were tested using One-Way Anova, independent t-test and the Pearson’s Coefficient of Correlation at 0.05 significance level. The results revealed that majority of the referees were aged 27-36 years (43.75%), male referees (85.75%) were more than female referees (16.25%) while referees with less than 5 years of experience were the majority (40%). Findings revealed that the referees encountered stress from different sources and coped actively with the stress. Intrapersonal and performance sources were responsible for causing the greatest amount of stress to the referees while organisational sources contributed the least. Fear of failure and accuracy with calls were the two most severe stressors that affected the referees while verbal abuse was the least severe. The referees used problem focused, emotion focused and avoidance coping mechanisms to fight stress. Problem focused was the most preferred mechanism while emotion focused was the least preferred. According to this study, there was no significant mean difference in sources of stress across different age categories (p=0.344) and sources of stress of male and female referees (p=0.344) but there was a significant mean difference in sources of stress across refereeing experience (p=0.009). This implies that neither age nor gender influenced sources of stress. However, referees’ experience influenced sources of stress. Therefore, the most experienced referees were the most stressed. On the other hand, findings showed that there was no significant mean difference in the rating of coping strategies by different age groups (p=0.348), there was no significant mean difference in the rating of stress coping strategies across sex groups (p=0.124) and there was no significant mean difference in the rating of stress coping strategies across different categories of refereeing experience (p=0.243). This implies that age, gender and experience did not influence choice of coping strategies. However, this study showed that there was a positive relationship between sources of stress and coping strategies (p=0.008). This implies that the more stress the referees came across, the more coping skills they developed. This study recommends that active rugby referees in Kenya should be subjected to continuous learning focused on stress and coping techniques in order to improve their coping skills and make them more effective. The study also recommends that the the Kenya Rugby Union should ensure that recruitment and career pathway for referees focus on talent identification since age, gender and experience do not lead to better coping skills which are essential in preventing burnout and early termination by referees.