Bengaluru, August 14: Hockey India introducing the open application and registration process for Tournament Officials on their Member Unit Portal has largely helped several young and upcoming Umpires and Technical Officials apply and register, feels 40-year-old Rohini Bopanna who was recently promoted to the FIH Technical Official - Advancement Panel.
In June this year, Hockey India introduced a user-friendly, easy-to-access process where a Tournament Official candidate can submit his or her application through the Hockey India Member Unit Portal. Once the application is submitted, the concerned Hockey India registered Member Unit under which the Tournament Official is submitting will approve following which the National Federation will provide final approval to confirm the registration.
"Earlier, there would be times when interesting Umpires and Technical Officials would send in physical forms to their State Member Units but it would either get misplaced or the office would forget to forward the application to Hockey India. It was also very time consuming and required constant follow-ups but this new process is very easy and in a way, puts us directly in touch with the National Federation. The system is very transparent and hence it has generated a lot of interest," stated Bopanna who began Umpiring in 2014.
Bopanna feels the Federation's proactive approach has encouraged several women to take up Umpiring and Technical Officiating either as a part time or a full-time occupation. "Back when I began, there were a few women from Delhi in Umpiring, but regular seminars and workshops conducted by Hockey India encouraged more women from Mumbai, Haryana and other states to register and take up officiating at the domestic level. Earlier there would mostly be men officiating at Women's Nationals but now the scenario has changed and this proactive approach by Hockey India is encouraging many state-level players to get certified as Umpires or TO," she says.
The Federation using various mediums to communicate and impart knowledge has been a key factor. Bopanna explains and puts things into perspective: "Over the past 3-4 years, Hockey India calls for a training programme 20 days prior to every National Championship where the Tournament Director in-charge of that particular Tournament will conduct sessions online or over WhatsApp which will involve going through Rules & Regulations, with the Umpires being put through various scenarios that may arise during the course of the tournament. This really helps us build confidence and also ensures we are thoroughly prepared ahead of the tournament," she says.
This kind of training has particularly helped Technical Officials like Rohini Bopanna. "I remember when I was assigned to officiate at the junior women's Asia Cup in Bangkok, before the Semi Finals, the TD in-charge asked me a couple questions on scenarios involving shootout. I was able to answer to his queries confidently and aptly to which the TD said Indian officials are quite knowledgeable and well-prepared. It is also encouraging that whenever we feel like we need any help, the officials at Hockey India are always available to guide us or put us in touch with experts who can provide the right assistance. They have created a good support system," she said.
With no tournaments yet, Hockey India continues to engage the Umpires and Technical Officials with regular webinars either conducted by the National Governing Body or the Asian Hockey Federation / FIH. "We all thought we won't have anything to do till 2021 due to Covid-19 but with these regular interactive sessions, we are kept busy and it has been very helpful," she concluded.
Source: HI Media