New England Hockey rules have set a precedent for the future of female umpiring – and one club has seen members take on the first step to take up the whistle.
This course at Wapping Hockey Club followed the recent announcement from England Hockey of new umpiring regulations for the 23/24 season, which hope to encourage an increase in female umpires.
Dion Oliver, England Hockey umpire assessor, spoke on why it is that clubs across England are lacking umpires.
He said: “I think that confidence is one of the biggest things stopping people from getting into umpiring. If we can get that instilled into people, we can get more volunteers, we can get more people in.”
“If an umpire’s confidence gets hit once, they just won’t be keen on umpiring again. So, as long as they get the support and the back up, then the pool of umpires will grow.’
When discussing players concerns about getting into umpiring, Isabel Ringrose, women’s 4s player, explained how the need to umpire men’s games as well as women’s games can be daunting to prospective female umpires.
She said: “I think there’s a perception that Men’s hockey is different in ways to Ladies’ hockey so it can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you’re new to the sport. Also, as with every aspect of life, especially sport, things have been created with men in mind. But acknowledging that and getting more women into those positions can help change the narrative.”
Women’s 5s Tina Feeney told of her motivations for taking on an umpiring role: “It’s actually quite fun. You get to see a lot more hockey. You get to travel a bit. See some other clubs and some decent play.”
She went on to explain the importance of encouraging women to take up umpiring roles to the future generations of hockey players. “The more female umpires they see, the more female umpires we’ll get!”
As the day was wrapping up, Oliver said: “I can see a lot of raw talent. And if the players treat them well, treat them properly, you’ll find that actually a lot of these Ladies’ umpires will come in and do a lot better than the men.”