Field Hockey Canada > Umpire's Perspective - Youth Championship

Umpire’s Perspective – Youth Championship

February 24, 2010 | Field Hockey Canada |

Pan Am Youth Championship 2010 – Hermosillio, Mexico – an umpires perspective

February 24, 2010

By Gavin Caldecott

After a couple of years umpiring in the junior spring leagues, I started umpiring in the senior women’s and men’s leagues around Vancouver, and was then invited to start umpiring at all the various High Performance tournaments and Club Championships in the greater Vancouver area. My progression up the ranks was fairly quick, and I was given my Regional umpiring designation in November 2006.

I’ve now been to Calgary for the Canadian National Championships, Victoria for the CIS Championships in 2008, and went down to Los Angeles for the CalCup in 2009, where I umpired in the Super Division.

I think a big part in any umpire’s development is the assistance, coaching and mentoring they receive from senior colleagues, and going to these tournaments exposed me to better and more experienced umpires and certainly helped steepen the learning curve. Of course, the local guys, Alan Waterman, Sumesh Putra and Paul Chohan have all been great supporters in helping me along the path so far, and Keely Dunn has shown me another level of professionalism when it comes to doing what we do for hockey!

I was approached to go down to Mexico with the u17 mens team, and quickly accepted the appointment. I knew it would be a great tournament for a young umpire to go to, as the first major step in becoming an international umpire, and I was not disappointed. All the teams seemed very well prepared and the pace and skill on display surprised me. The umpires manager from Argentina gave us a very specific briefing on what he wanted to see from the umpiring team in the tournament, but also made us feel very welcome and ensured we had fun at the same time – although when you have good, fun bunch of young men together, the fun times seemed to come very easily!

The initial challenge in going was however, the funding, and as with most non-mainstream sports, it came down to support from within the hockey community, and I thank everyone who helped me with coming up with the airfare necessary to get there.

It was an eye opener to see how different teams play vastly different hockey, the speed and flair of the Argentines, the technically smart play from the Americans, the speedy and aggressive Mexicans, the Chileans with moments of brilliant skill and the Canadians with a strong, physical yet controlled style. It was also an experience to umpire the different personalities that were on exhibition, the youthful enthusiasm sometimes showing up in interesting situations!

The meeting and coming together of a team of individuals in a short space of time with a specific purpose was a memorable experience, and we felt as a group that we achieved what had been set for us in the initial briefing.

Fortunately, I personally was able to umpire at a good level, and the umpires manager was very happy with my performance, and I was rewarded with the appointment of the gold medal game. I would not have been able to do it had our boys qualified for the 1st and 2nd place qualification, but unfortunately for them the last hurdle proved one too many and in their last pool game, they fell to the USA boys in a tight game.

Overall, I was told my performance through out the tournament was of a standard well above my current rating, and that if I want to carry on in the future, I could go far with umpiring in field hockey. However, looking at the calendar that the Pan Am Hockey Federation has up, it may be a while before the next development chance will appear.

The final had favourites Argentina up against the USA, and it was a very close match. The USA defence was able to absorb the attacks thrown at them and still generate chances themselves.

The winning goal only came 90 seconds from the final whistle, followed by very enthusiastic celebrations from the young Argentine side. I’m sure the squad will do well in the Youth Olympics later this year.

It is a very rewarding job at times, and is certainly the road less travelled in our sport, but I look forward to continuing on it, learning as I go and then being able to help others. It’s the best seat in the house to have when it comes to watching hockey, even if it is a hot seat once in a while!