First Year NTU Student Harry Collinson has had quite the month. He travelled to Malaysia as the GB umpire at the Sultan of Johor Cup. The under 21s international tournament is a major pathway for future professional hockey players. We asked him to give us the low down on the whole experience.
What do you study? (Course, year)
Business Management and Marketing
Do you play Hockey yourself? If so for who?
Yes, I have played since I was eight. I played at Thirsk School and Thirsk HC until moved to NTU, and now I am playing for NTU M3’s on a Wednesday in the BUCS league.
How did you get involved with being a hockey official?
I got involved in Hockey umpiring when I was 13. After completing a few courses and officiating some tournaments. From there I was put onto the North RYUAG (Regional Young Umpiring Action Group). I did more tournaments and worked up the “Panels” until I was 15, where I was promoted to the NYUPL (National Young Umpires Promising List).
This is the best 25 umpires in the country between the ages of 16-25. I was put on this list a year young, being the first umpire to do so. From here, over the past 2 years I have umpired multiple national finals.
Then, this year in May, I did the National Finals for U16 Boys Clubs at Nottingham Hockey Centre. I was watched by a senior figures in the world of Hockey umpiring who fast tracked me into the world of men’s hockey umpiring.
This gave me the opportunity of going to Malaysia to do the Sultan of Johor Cup, which is an under 21 international tournament, as the GB umpire.
What was the highlight of your time in Malaysia?
There are so many highlights of my time in Malaysia! From meeting umpires from all over the world, we had umpires from Japan, Australia and Singapore to name a few.
As well as an umpire manager from Holland, who has umpired at two Olympic Games! Another highlight was the hospitality shown to us. We were put up in a 5* hotel, I even had all my laundry done for free (a bonus as I don’t have to do any now at uni!). The local schools were given a team each which they would support for the tournament, the noise they created for the whole game was incredible! They treated us like celebrities, even asking us for photos with them, bizarre! My main highlight though was getting a top mark in my report and having a good tournament in my first international event!
What was it like officiating being so young and why do you think it is important that the game has young officials?
Being younger than most of the players (it was an under 21s tournament) is always difficult. Since I have
started nearly every match I umpire people of the same age or older than me.
The guys playing in Malaysia are international players. This makes it difficult as it is often deadly serious, if they perform well, they can make a profession out of it. Therefore, being the youngest and most inexperienced, I can often find myself a little bit intimidated by some of the players.
This is something which I have worked on and become a lot more relaxed with, having played myself. As the youngest, I needed to prove myself to my colleagues and umpire manager. These are the challenges of umpiring so young; however, there are many upsides. One of them is the fact I am 18, just started university and I have had the chance to have an 11 day all expenses paid trip to Malaysia, in a continent I have never visited before. I also have umpired on many occasions at the Olympic Hockey Stadium in London.
I think it is important that the game has young officials for many reasons; the main reason is that Hockey is fast becoming a young person’s sport. With the arrival of the new “World league” I believe the age of umpires will need to drop.
The age is lowering because of the sheer pace and athleticism shown in the game at the top level. This means that younger umpires will get more opportunities. Having new young umpires in the game, we can learn from the more senior umpires and have a younger, more knowledgeable umpiring generation.
What do you want to achieve in the future as a Hockey official?
The ultimate goal for me is to get to the highest level possible in the umpiring world. Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Cups are the best tournaments, in which I aspire to umpire one day. In the near future, I hope to get my Level 3 and umpire National League in England.
Contributor – NTU 1st year student Harry Collinson