India’s Raghu Prasad has become the 35th men’s umpire to receive a Golden Whistle, the coveted gift awarded to umpires on the occasion of their 100th senior international match.
Raghu reached the milestone in Wednesday’s Pool A match between Pakistan and Australia at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp. He is the third Indian umpire to officiate 100 senior international matches, joining Satinder Kumar and Javed Shaikh who received their Golden Whistles in 2009 and 2014 respectively.
“It’s an awesome feeling to reach this milestone as it is not an easy job for an umpire to reach that level,” said Raghu. “I cannot express how I feel about it - it really is unbelievable.”
Since becoming an international umpire in 2003, Raghu has officiated at many world level events including the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, which was held last year in The Hague. The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and four FIH Champions Trophy events also feature on his impressive CV, as does the 2010 Hero Hockey World Cup in Delhi, although unfortunately he was forced to stay on the sidelines throughout that event due to illness.
“For me, the match between the Netherlands and Korea at last year’s World Cup was a memorable experience, as it was a great match in front of a big crowd”, said Raghu. "It was certainly an amazing moment for me.”
At 36 years of age, Raghu could well be umpiring at this level for another decade. So, is he setting his sights on reach 200 games? “If time permits and I stay fit, it would be great, but we’ll take it one game at a time!”