(Photo: Photo: Yolande Brada )

In combination with their National Championships for Men and Women the Chinese Hockey Association (CHA) organised an Umpiring Coaching Course in Changzhou (CHN).  This took place over the period from 2-6 November 2011 and comprised a Course for the Chinese Umpires and a Workshop for the team Coaches. Yolande Brada (NED) was the FIH appointed Course Conductor and recounts her Chinese experience:

‘’I started the week with the Workshop for the team Coaches on the Wednesday morning. The explanation of the new rules was the main topic. In this session, with help of a translator, more than 60 Coaches from all over China were informed about the development of the rules, in particular for free hits and the self pass.

Other topics were discussed and explained including lifted and aerial balls. The clips from the Dartfish FIH Rules of Hockey Video Library were extensively used in the Coaches and Umpire sessions. The Coaches themselves had also prepared a few questions on how to improve umpire co-operation and consistency of decision making. Fortunately all of their questions were already scheduled for the Umpiring Course!

The Umpiring Course started the following morning. The group of Umpires consisted of approximately 30 umpires, with an even split between Men and Women. The first session was about Communication, Management and Control, topics which have become increasingly relevant for the development and improvement of Umpires. As usual I tried to make the workshops as interactive as possible.

However, when everything has to be translated into Chinese, it is quite challenging to create the necessary interaction with the audience. The translator from CHA was very helpful, because it was not only his perfect English but also his knowledge regarding hockey and the rules which created a better understanding in the workshops.
It was very interesting to see how the Umpires developed during the Course from being a little passive at first into active participants. This effect was visible on the second day during the workshop regarding the Psychology of Umpiring, which for all of them was a new topic. Although I was not sure what their reaction would be to this, in fact they were very enthusiastic and it seemed to be of great value to them.

At the end of the morning the Umpires split into smaller groups, with each group assigned their own task to analyse a particular aspect of umpiring during the afternoon game. They were all looking forward to this, until I announced that each group had to do a presentation on the final day. After some nervous laughter, they all accepted the task, so I was curious to see how this would develop.
During the formal dinner that evening (which in fact was very informal) the atmosphere was fantastic. While the Umpires were learning more about umpiring during their Course, I learned how to use chop sticks properly for the first time. 

The next morning we started with the feedback from all of the groups, with each group making a brief and positive presentation. Some of the groups presented in English, others in Chinese. Each was brave enough to suggest a couple of learning points for the Umpires concerned. 

Besides the mental aspects of umpiring, we discussed match preparation and covered almost all of the other rules and their interpretations.
It was a wonderful experience for all concerned; for a National Association who sees and understands the importance of umpiring and wants to stimulate and develop their Umpires; for me it was an experience which I would not want to have missed, not only because of  umpiring, but also to have more knowledge of Chinese hockey and the life and culture in China.

The hospitality of the Chinese Hockey Association was first class. They organised everything perfectly for the Coaches, the Umpires and for me, including my travel, hotel, my meals and a personal guide/host while I was in Changzhou. They even organised a guide for my sightseeing and shopping in Shanghai on my day of departure.’’