Canadian Eric Donegani, one of the most experienced international Technical Officials, recently announced his retirement from active duty after a national, continental and international career spanning 40 years and a vast variety of appointments. Eric is still a member of the FIH Rules Committee however, so his involvement in hockey is not over.
Eric started playing hockey at the age of ten in a junior program established by Dr. Harry Warren in Vancouver. He played for the Vancouver Hawks FHC, for the British Columbia provincial team and for the Canadian Team extended squad.
While still playing, he quickly took responsibilities as coach and manager, then as administrator. In 1971, he became President of his Vancouver club, and the first Executive Director of the Canadian Field Hockey Council, a professional position that took him for eight years to Ottawa during the preparation of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, the first Olympic hockey competition to be played on artificial turf.
In 1980, Eric was elected Vice-President of Field Hockey Canada, a position he kept until 1995.
Eric Donegani started his involvement as a Technical Official in 1971, first in national competitions in Canada, but very quickly at continental and international levels. He was a Judge for the first time at an international competition for the 1975 Pre-Olympic Tournament in Montreal, then for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, the 1985 Junior World Cup in his home town of Vancouver and the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis.
He graduated to Tournament Officer (TO) in 1985 for a Junior Pan American competition, then for the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba, the 1994 World Cup in Sidney, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the 2002 World Cup in Malaysia and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Eric was the Tournament Director (TD) for the 1997 Junior World Cup in England, the 1998 Champions trophy in Lahore, the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo and the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. His last appointment was the 2009 Pan American Cup in Santiago de Chile.
When asked what were the highlights of this extraordinary career, Eric mentions:
• Being a co-founder of the Vancouver Hawks Club in 1965 and seeing it grow into one of the largest clubs in North America;
• Being the first Executive Director for Field Hockey in Canada during the exciting build up to the 1976 Montreal Olympics. It was historic to be involved with the Montreal Olympic Organizers and the FIH when the decision was made to play the games on artificial turf.
• Being the Canadian FHA Vice President in charge of the men’s national team program when Canada won its first Pan American gold medal in 1983 and then repeated in 1987.
• Being an international official for thirty-five years from 1975 to 2010. The highlight was being appointed as TD for the Sydney Olympics and also being “on the table” for three Olympic finals: Montreal, Atlanta and Athens.
• But by far the most special part of being involved with international hockey is the incredible number of friendships that he has made with people from all corners of the world!
Source: Pan American Hockey Press Release
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