Two of our very own UDP umpires, Paul Walker and Oliver Tarnoczi, took part in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. They sent us a report on their experience, so keep reading!

Paul Walker and Oliver Tarnoczi, both members of UDP group 6, attended the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games hosted by the city of Nanjing in China from 17th-27th August. It was an honour to be appointed as the two European male umpires to this tournament which was also the international debut for the game of Hockey5s.

The panel of umpires had a range of experience of Hockey5s with several people attending the continental qualification tournaments. Neither of us had any experience of umpiring this new, complementary format of hockey. The pre-tournament meetings were particularly important to get the whole umpiring team to the same level of understanding of the rules and structure of the game. This included discussion of points raised during the pre-tournament coaches meeting.

UDP in Nanjing 2

When the tournament started we realised that Hockey5s was a great game and provides different challenges for umpires compared to the 11-a-side game. Sideboards mean that the pitch is enclosed and so the ball is active for longer periods of time, requiring high levels of concentration. The sideboards provided some challenges and early in the tournament we had to get used to jumping over the boards whilst still focusing on the game (which sometimes caused problems).

In the 11-metre area you can give only a free hit or a challenge. Umpires, therefore, have to judge whether a foul is worthy of a free hit or the stronger penalty of a challenge. Additionally, there are no green cards in Hockey5s meaning that management of the game, including deciding when to let the play flow or stop the game for a verbal warning or to apply a personal penalty is important and different to 11-a-side hockey. The temperature of the game changes quickly and there are a lot of goal scoring opportunities, because you can score form anywhere on the pitch. Combining all these factors makes the game for the umpires very exciting.

Paul had the great honor to umpire the Youth Olympic Final whilst Oliver umpired one of the semi finals. In both games a challenge shoot out decided the winner.

It was the first time either of us had attended a worldwide multi-sport event and we were fortunate to be able to attend the opening ceremony at the start of the games. It was a great celebration of Chinese culture and lifestyle and something that we wont forget for a long time. We would like to thank our Umpire Managers Rob Ten Cate and Yolande Brada and Tournament Director Bjorn Isberg for their support and assistance throughout the tournament. We enjoyed every minute of this great event on and off the pitch.

Source and Photographs: EHF/Paul Walker and Oliver Tarnoczi