Truly a day for featuring our umpires and their progress our second #FridayFocus today comes from UDP Group 13.

Mentor Mirjam Wessel reports:

The KO16 in Barcelona marked the second time that UDP group 13 came together with the goal of developing our understanding of the expectations of umpires at one of the pinnacle events in the European Hockey Federations’ calendar.

All the members were in attendance; mentors Roel Van Eert (NED) and Mirjam Wessel (NED), and umpires Lena Obwald (GER), Rebecca Woodcock (ENG), Antoine Duhem (FRA), Daniël Veerman (NED), Luka Zupancic (AUT) and a new face – Dan Stewart (ENG) – who joined the group in place of Carly Edwards (SCO), who sadly withdrew from the program.

Despite the variable weather, the event promised a weekend full of match analysis, in-depth discussions, and of course support for the EHL umpires – of which Luka was one – taking control of the EHL matches.

We were joined also by UDP groups 11 and 12, of whom we would join in dissecting particular games, and making full use of the umpiring experience provided by their mentors Marc Knuelle (GER), Jean Duncan (SCO), Louise Knipe (ENG) and Hamish Jamson (ENG).

Across the weekend, we focussed on four main areas when assessing the match play; aerial ball decisions and their execution, the level of physicality tolerated, communication between umpires, and the efficacy of the video umpire and its ever-prominent feature within elite-level hockey. These areas provided many conversations, as many of the games were hotly contested as teams fought for a place in the final 8.

Deeper insight was also brought to the group from Luka, who provided a reflection on his first time in the video box, sharing the immense pressure the video umpire faces when the teams refer a decision.  Even those games which ended in a heavy defeat offered contentious moments from which we could put ourselves into the shoes of the umpire to understand the decisions made.

On Saturday evening, all the groups were invited to the graduation dinner and ceremony of UDP group 11, an enjoyable evening celebrating the successes of the umpires and mentors.  Although we often work and host discussions within our own groups, the graduation demonstrated the true comradery and family atmosphere that the UDP process provides to its umpires, regardless of group number. We watched a heartfelt presentation from the group 11 mentors, reflecting on each individual umpire’s journey through their UDP program, sharing memories and laughs, as well as all of the achievements the group had made across their 3 years together.  Being at the very beginning of this process, it was amazing to share in their experiences, understand what the program holds for us in the coming years and ultimately build stronger connections with those who we may share the pitch within the not so distant future.

On the final day, we once again supported Luka in his final EHL game of the tournament before heading off to the airport for our flights home. Overall, our time in Barcelona provided real insight into what it takes to be an EHL hockey umpire, and we look forward to the next UDP Group 13 meeting.

Once again thanks to Roel Van Eert (NED) and Mirjam Wessel (NED) for giving of their very precious free time to help develop our UDP umpires!

For more information on the UDP programme – click here 

Main photo credit Luka Zupancic (World Sport Pics (c))