Field Hockey Canada > From National Team Player to International Umpire

From National Team Player to International Umpire

August 22, 2012 | Field Hockey Canada |

Lelia Sacré, age 24 from North Delta, BC, former member of the Women’s Junior and Senior National Teams from 2005 to 2007. She has coached a variety of U14 to U18 girls teams in BC. In 2011 she began training to be an international umpire and this past July she travelled on the 2012 Junior Women’s Europe Tour (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain).  Sacré shares some interesting facts about her transition from player to umpire.

When did you start playing field hockey?
A.      I have been around hockey all my life, but I started playing when I was 5 years old.

Q.     How many years did you play?
A.      19 years

Q.     What teams did you play for?
A.      Surrey Sharks, Seaquam Secondary, BC High Performance, BC Provincial Teams, Junior and Senior Women’s National Teams, and University of Maine

Q.     Most  memorable games/tournaments?

A.      The 2005 Women’s Junior World Cup in Santiago, Chile It was my first time representing Canada. Hearing my national anthem before a game I was about to play in gave me great joy and pride.

Q.     Why did you decide to become an umpire?
A.      I realized my body just couldn’t handle the training elite athletes need to do to compete, but wanted to remain involved in the game at the international level.  I knew there were plenty of opportunities worldwide that would still allow me participate at the top level.

 Q.     What training do you need to become an umpire?
A.      To become an umpire we first write the provincial exam testing our rules of the game knowledge.  Upon passing, we are assessed to become a Community or Provincial level umpire.  The next step, Regional, includes another written exam and two more field assessments.  The top level designation in Canada is the Canadian which involves two field assessments, a presentation and a questions panel. 
Q.     Has the transition from player to umpire been challenging?
A.      I still play field hockey so there remains a transition between the player’s and umpire’s mindset.  A more difficult transition is related to biomechanics.  The way you move as a player or umpire, are completely different from one another.  Learning to alter my running style has been one of the biggest changes.  However, trying to play at a higher level allows my decision-making to be quicker than an umpire needs.

Q.     What is the best advice have you received from umpires in Canada and internationally?
A.      The best advice I have received from umpires in Canada was about my presentation, primarily how to hold myself on the field – shoulders back, head up and look confident!  Internationally, it has been about learning how to call aerial balls better and more quickly which was challenging because we don’t see them consistently during games.

 Q.     What were some of the highlights of your recent trip to Europe with the Jr. Women’s National team?
A.      Two experiences from the European Tour stand out for me.  The first highlight was working with a number of talented umpires in Germany.  The level of play was fantastic, but working with Grade 1 and Promising List Umpires was a great opportunity to ask many questions.  Secondly, when Stella Bartlema came to watch the Netherlands v. Canada game in Amsterdam just weeks before she was headed off to London 2012 to umpire women’s field hockey at the Olympics.

Q.     What are your goals as an umpire?
A.      I have a short-term goal of getting my FIH badge within the next year.  Longer-term goals include being an umpire at the Champions Trophy, the Olympics and as many tournaments as possible!

Q.    What advice do you have for aspiring umpires?

A.    Absorb any and all advice!  The key to becoming a great umpire is opening your mind a variety of remarks and coaching styles. Umpires are on the field to enforce the rules, but we also have to keep the fun in the game – it is OK to smile!