This year’s U4E Exchange weekends got off to a great start in France, organised by Gregory Maya-Perez and Yolande Lanzas.

Mentees : Zoe Hall (ENG) / Iva MARIC (SLO) / Keith Calleja (MLT) / Stefan Her (NED) / Kamaal Khan (ITA) / Marius Cuadrat-Posada (SPA) / Luke Rees (WAL) / Lewis White (SCO)

Mentors: Yolande Lanzas / Gregory Maya-Perez

Gregory reported as follows:

Right after Breda, it was obvious for Yolande and I that it would be great to mix our two groups. We then looked into the French league calendar to identify possible dates and locations to have everybody around.

Organisation

We identified games, we contacted our mentees and we received quick approval from French Hockey to appoint our mentees on League games and discussed the budget!

As former umpires, we’re ready to expect the unexpected and it happened in the form of watering restrictions in the north of France that deeply affected the French calendar, and therefore our plans.

We had arranged one weekend in Lille and one in Paris. And we had to eventually organize both of them in Paris which made the logistics a bit more challenging.

Goals

Having the chance to watch our mentees through four eyes, on up to 3 consecutive games in two weeks time was ideal to review  Personal Development Plans.

The second goal was to build a team of umpires so that, would they meet again on hockey events, relationships were established and the UM job there would be easier on that field.

Last but not least, establish a closer relationship with our mentees in order to make our work during the season easier.

On the pitch

Those of our mentees available both weekends could umpire three games in total, while those available only on the second weekend umpired one.

Most of the games were from top league men, one game was top league women, and one from Nation (i.e., second division) women.

First of all, the clubs competing in these games had a very positive view of the exchange. It was an opportunity for them to face unknown umpires and focus on play. The level of performance was recognized as good and the exchange itself was “good for our league”.

Every game was followed by a debriefing which leads to amending the Personal Development Plan. We also had some group talks about specific situations. Each mentee will get a video of his game(s) shortly.

For those who attended a game (before or after theirs), we tried to provide live commentary and talk about the game. This has to be improved as we had (understandably) to cope with preparation for the next game or cooling down from the previous one, and also had to keep track of the current game in order to provide feedback.

Off the pitch

We had a day off each of these weekends and organized touristic activities for our mentees. These moments were very joyful and we received very positive feedback from our mentees.

Those activities led to better relations between the mentees and also with us. This area should help in future events where our mentees would meet again.

We could also take time to have a more relaxed relationship with each and every mentee, so it’ll help in future communication and support for each other going forward.

Feedback

Our mentees appreciated the games and off hockey activities and described the exchange as “amazing weekends”.

The possibility to get a video of the games was also very appreciated.

We can also try to commit our National Association more on the events, and perhaps organise a young umpires seminar around some games.

Finally, for us, it was a great human experience again. Tiring, but so rewarding when we realized the improvements from game 1 to game 3 and also looking at the smiles on everybody’s faces.

The challenge now is to keep the motivation up and go on with contacts and discussions through the internet (videos, chats…).

Some of our mentees are talking about organizing another exchange in March or April, funded by their National Associations on a smaller format, great to see our mentees taking the initiative to arrange this!

Many thanks to Gregory and Yolande for giving up so much free time to their mentees! We are sure that our U4E programme will be a great success and we look forward to watching their umpiring careers blossoming!

For more information on our U4E Programmes click here