With three weeks remaining until the start of Euro Hockey League’s exciting KO16 Amsterdam event, Tournament Director Scott Baird speaks about how preparations are going for the competition. The Scottish official – who was also TD at Round 1.1 in Barcelona last October – also discusses the impact that the EHL’s innovative rule changes have had on the sport.
Hi Scott, thanks for talking to us. KO16 Amsterdam is rapidly approaching, and it promises to be an event to remember. You must be greatly looking forward to the event.
SCOTT BAIRD: “I am really looking forward to what I consider to be one of the best weekends of club hockey in the world. I was lucky enough to be at Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium last year for the finals weekend and if the atmosphere and hockey can match what we saw there then we are in for an absolute treat.”
You have a long association with the Euro Hockey League, having been a Technical Officer at the very first EHL event at HGC in October 2007. It must be fantastic to now be in the role of Tournament Director (TD) at such a high profile event.
SB: “I have been fortunate to be involved with the EHL from the start and it is a great honour to be appointed as Tournament Director for the KO16 in Amsterdam. However it will be a very poignant weekend for me. Since the completion of Round 1 the “hockey family” lost one of its top Tournament Directors, Guido Braca, to cancer.
“Guido was TD for the first ever EHL weekend at HGC and was instrumental in interpreting and delivering the new and innovative rules that we now accept as the norm. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to work with him and watch how he engaged with the team managers to implement all the new regulations from Self-Pass to players breaking the line at penalty corners, both of which were hot topics during that first managers briefing. He was at the heart of the EHL and I am very fortunate to have benefited from his generosity of spirit and willingness to share both his knowledge and experience.
“He is greatly missed by everyone in hockey however our loss is nothing to that of his wife Mara and his two sons, Leonardo and Riccardo.”
You were also Tournament Director at the Round 1.1 event in Barcelona. For the benefit of those who do not know the inner workings of top level hockey, can you explain what the role of the Tournament Director is at an event like KO16 Amsterdam?
SB: “My role is to make sure that the tournament runs smoothly and that as a team we build on all of the hard work that has been put in over the last five years to ensure the tournament continues to be ‘The best way hockey has ever been presented’.”
So, how are the preparations coming along for you and your team of officials? Is everything going smoothly?
SB: “Preparations are going extremely well. I have a very experienced group of technical officials who have worked extensively at European Hockey Federation and International Hockey Federation events. On the umpiring front we have a selection of the best umpires in Europe and two umpire managers in Ged (Curran) and Spikey (Henrik Ehlers) who have experienced officiating in Olympic finals. We are incredibly lucky to be able to draw on this level of experience. The silent part of the EHL is the efforts of ProSport and Infostrada Sports Group, who ensure that the EHL Video Referral System works so successfully and the coverage that they provide continues to raise the bar in terms of the experience for the spectators and viewers.”
There are some cracking matches taking place at KO16. Which one in particular really catches your attention?
SB: “From the first set of games the Bloemendaal versus Club de Campo match is the one I am really looking forward to although all the games have something to offer.”
The Euro Hockey League has earned a reputation as something of a pioneering and progressive tournament. Various changes that were first seen in the EHL have filtered their way into the international game, such as the Self Pass, the Green Card two minute suspension and the Video Referral. As a top level official, which of these changes do you think has been the most successful export from the EHL?
SB: “The self-pass rule has been great for the sport at all levels however I have really enjoyed last season’s innovation that allows players to play the ball above their shoulder. This has provided some incredible moments of skill.”
Finally, what are your plans after KO16 is over? Are there any big international tournaments coming up for you?
SB: “After KO16 my focus will be on the Commonwealth Games and ensuring Scotland delivers a successful hockey program. I am looking forward to welcoming everyone to my home city of Glasgow in the summer 2014 to our new purpose built hockey centre.”
Euro Hockey League’s KO16 Amsterdam event will see sixteen teams reduced to the four tournament Semi Finalists over four days of intense knock-out competition. The event takes place in The Netherlands at Amsterdam H&BC’s Wagener Stadium from Friday 29th March until Monday 1st April 2013. To purchase ticket for the event, please click here.
Source: Euro Hockey League
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