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Umpires Congress in Netherlands
21 Jan 2008 12:49

The Royal Dutch Hockey Association (KNHB) held a special Congress for Umpires in August 2007. Just before the start of their new 2007 outdoor season, the participants heard all about the latest developments in hockey. Six hundred people visited the inaugural special Congress for Umpires. KNHB staff member, Yolande Brada, came up with the idea for this new annual event.

By Jan Balk (Dutch Hockey Magazine)

There used to be an annual seminar for hockey umpires, when around 200 umpires would meet once a year to hear the latest news about umpiring. Brada came up with the idea to make this event much bigger. ‘Umpiring has got so many different elements these days. It is so much more than just blowing a whistle. That’s why we decided to stage this special Congress. The event isn’t just for umpires. It is also very useful for people who have something or another to do with umpiring. So we also invited club and district organisers, umpiring teachers, umpiring assessors and umpiring coordinators. Everybody who had anything to do with umpiring could learn something during the Congress. The main goal of the new event was to improve the quality of umpiring.’

Umpires don’t have an easy life. The relationship between players, coaches and umpires in the Netherlands needs to be improved for the sake of the game. Brada, who is in charge of the umpires section of the KNHB, believes there is a solution. ‘We have to better ourselves in order to gain more respect from coaches, players and spectators. The new congress is a very good tool to achieve this goal.’

The improvement of the quality and the image of umpires was the central theme of the new congress in 2007. These aspects are also the main themes in the Umpiring Master plan 2007-2021 of the KNHB.

There were several workshops and speaker corners during the Congress, which participants were able to visit. For example: -

  • The coach of the successful Dutch Women’s team, Marc Lammers, showed at one of the workshops how umpires and coaches can learn from each other. ‘I tell my players they have to show respect for umpires. My injured players have to umpire practice games so that they realise how difficult it is to blow the whistle. On the other hand, I tell my players they should have a two percent improvement every day. Umpires should also try to achieve the same goal.’
  • Annemarieke Godschalx-Bosman informed the visitors about the organisation of umpiring at the big Dutch club, Bloemendaal
  • Peter Elders held a special briefing about all the latest developments of the Rules of Hockey. The former international umpire talked about the modern way of umpiring. Elders said umpires shouldn’t whistle for every little thing, sometimes it is better for the game to continue. Elders talked also about the interpretation of the high ball and there was a quiz about umpiring during the Congress
  • The KNHB organised one workshop about umpire personality. Dutch actor Fulco Deken gave a great performance to show what an umpire should and should not do if they wish to improve their image
  • There was a workshop about body language as a means of communication, given by body and mind trainer Jan Kallenbach
  • Another workshop was held to show umpires how they can prepare themselves not only physically but also mentally before a hockey match
  • Thomas Gorter, who is a member of the famous Hockey Club Klein Zwitserland, informed participants about how to organise a Club Code of Discipline
  • Participants were also able to learn about fitness and nutrition for umpires, coping with people who are trying to influence you, dealing with young children, sportsmanship and respect

‘The good thing is that the speakers were very experienced’, says Brada. ‘So it was easy for them to give good examples. In theory you can say every club member above sixteen has to be able to umpire. But how do you achieve this goal? What kind of match is good for the development of a starter umpire? What do you do with members who really can’t umpire and who will never learn to umpire? The Congress gave answers to all these questions.’

All in all the congress was a great success. Brada said: ‘It is very good to provide information regarding the latest developments in umpiring just before the start of the new season. I am sure we will do the same kind of thing next season and that it will become a yearly tradition.’


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