Field Hockey Canada > Top-notch Canadian officials at Jr. Pan Ams

Top-notch Canadian officials at Jr. Pan Ams

September 28, 2012 | Field Hockey Canada |

Canada sent six top-notch officials to the recent 2012 Pan American Junior Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Technical Officer Tony Stewart, Assistant Umpire Manager Sumesh Putra and Umpire Gavin Caldecott were on the men’s side.  For the women’s tournament, Tournament Director Madge Johnson, Assistant Umpire Manager Chris Wilson and Umpire Megan Robertson represented Canada.  Umpires Caldecott and Robertson each received their FIH badge in Guadalajara – a very exciting accomplishment. 

Tournament Director Madge Johnson, Assistant Umpire Manager Chris Wilson and Umpire Gavin Caldecott share their experiences.

FHC:  What was your experience at the Pan American Junior Championships?

Madge Johnson: It was a great experience!  There were 24 teams competing and hockey for 14 days in a row.

Chris Wilson:  My experience was pretty much what I expected: long days and many of them, but it was rewarding.  We had six umpires on the women’s side going for their FIH badge, and it was up to the Umpires Manager, Cinthia, and I to decide if they met the standard.  That was a big responsibility.  Giving advice to newly badged and more experienced umpires was a big responsibility as well. 

Gavin Caldecott:  I had a fantastic experience.  The level of hockey and styles on display were very different between all the teams, and umpiring the different levels of skill means that you have be able to change your umpiring approach for every game.  It was also good to meet and work with a very diverse group of umpires.  The North American, Caribbean, South American and Central American umpires all have slightly different styles and approaches to the game, and we have to mix it all up and still be consistent!  Off the pitch, both the women’s and men’s groups got on together very well, and we had a good time. I’ve certainly made some good friends, and I hope my umpiring career allows me to keep in contact with those individuals for the next few years.

FHC:  What was your favourite moment of the Championships?

MJ:  I think my favourite moment was on the first day when Team Guatemala, who had just lost 0 – 24 to Argentina, sat in the stands to cheer for the “underdog” Puerto Rico.  This continued the entire two weeks of the tournament – the underdog teams kept cheering for each other.  This is true sportsmanship and the reason why the tournament should always have the men’s and women’s competitions simultaneously. 

CW:  I really enjoyed advising the umpires, then watching them improve and have confidence in themselves.  Also, as a friend of both Megan Robertson and Gavin, it was very special to watch them both do so well and receive their FIH badge. 

GC:  My personal favourite moment of the Championships was umpiring the bronze medal game between Chile and the USA that ended on a golden goal in extra time.  It was a very even match, with both teams playing fast, aggressive hockey, and it was a challenging game to umpire, but it went well!   Another favourite moment was watching my fellow Canadian umpire, Megan Robertson, umpire her big match: the women’s semi-final between the USA and Argentina.  We have come up through the umpiring ranks together, so to watch her umpire such a big game so well was a proud moment for me. 

FHC:  There were quite a few Canadian officials involved in Guadalajara – what does this mean for Canada?

MJ:  This junior tournament is a great opportunity for our up and coming umpires to participate in a tournament where they can get international experience and potentially obtain their FIH Badge.  Both Megan Robertson and Gavin Caldecott did an excellent job representing Canada.  They have both worked very hard the last couple of years to improve their game, including travelling on their own dime to find international matches.

CW:  It is exciting to see all the Canadian officials here in Guadalajara.  All the officials here will gain experience and knowledge to take home to share with others which will, in turn, strengthen our entire hockey community in Canada.

GC:  It means good things can happen. By being there, we’re able to bring that experience back and share it with local colleagues to help maintain and improve standards of officiating here in Canada.  I was lucky to be able to call on the experiences of Sumesh Putra and Chris Wilson, who were both there at the tournament.   Likewise, I hope to help out the individuals who travel to international tournaments in the future.

FHC: Is it difficult to remain unbiased in such an exciting atmosphere?

MJ:  It was great to sit and “silently cheer” on our Canadian Junior Teams!  Congratulations to our men and women for qualifying for the 2013 Junior World Cup!

CW:  At this point in my career, after 16 years of international hockey, I have developed some good skills at remaining neutral looking.  Of course I want our Canadian teams to do well at any event they attend, but as an official I need to represent myself first.

GC:  Of course!  With the Canadian teams both playing well and making the finals, there were some moments when I’d like to have screamed my support.  But we must maintain our behaviour as if we are neutral to the outcomes of the games being played.

FHC: So what do officials do when they’re not officiating? 

MJ:  Well, Tony Stewart and I were on the pitch at 7:15am each morning, and didn’t return home until 10:00pm most days.  We were able to experience a soccer game in Guadalajara on the very last day.  The home fans were definitely vocal for their team! 

CW:  They try to relax and enjoy themselves.  When they are on the field, they are under constant pressure to see everything and do the right thing.  So when off the field they meet new people from around the world, make new friends and try to enjoy the culture of the country they are visiting.

GC:  We do many things!  There were no rest days in this tournament, so we weren’t able to arrange any outings or special events as a group.  Personally, I was able to do some studying and training – and even managed to use the swimming pool once!  In our second week in Guadalajara, one of the Mexican umpires offered to host a BBQ for all officials.  I was able to help plan and execute the evening, including some improvising when we had to prepare food for 45 people without the use of a kitchen.    Early in the tournament, we have a lot of meetings to discuss performances and situations.  Umpires are encouraged to watch and support each other as much as possible.  We also recorded most of the games, so we were able to review our own performances.