A Hockey Bengal (HB) effort to prepare quality umpires and technical staff received a good response with 22 youngsters attending a six-day online programme, which concluded on Wednesday.
“So far, Bengal has produced only three international umpires — Gurbux Singh, H.S. Sokhi and Susanta Bhattacharya. When Hockey India (HI) asked us to recommend some youngsters who could be groomed for the future, we thought this was a good opportunity for our state,” said HB joint secretary and a HI technical official Dr. Mohammed Khalid Hussain.
The most striking feature of the online programme was the age of the participants. “Generally people come to umpiring when their playing career is over. So, they are around 35 when they start (and it delays their progress). Here, the participants were mostly under 25 and one was under 27.
“We told them about the rules and regulations and how to conduct matches. There was good interest among participants, including eight women, and some of them were from places like Darjeeling and Cooch Behar.”
HB will recommend 10 of the 22 names to HI. “These participants completed an online workshop and got certificates from us in March.
“They will get more exposure when they work with HI. If they do well, they have the scope to officiate matches internationally. Others can wait for their turn to go through the workshop next year. Until then, they can conduct matches in local events,” said Hussain.