Crowdfunding donations recognise dedication as Laurine’s Olympic dream becomes reality
Regardless of whether you are a player, a coach or an official, the chance to represent your country at an Olympic Games is an opportunity few would ever take for granted. It is the pinnacle of elite sport, a privilege attained by years of relentless dedication and sacrifice to achieve the dream of taking part in the greatest show on earth.
For Belgian umpire Laurine Delforge, that dream will become a reality this summer when she takes charge of matches at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. At just 25 years of age, Laurine is the youngest umpire, either men or women, to be named on the hockey panel for the XXXI Olympiad.
“The Olympics are the world’s most important sporting event, and to be appointed is a real honour”, said Laurine, who as a player represented Belgium at junior level and even played for her country at last year’s Indoor World Cup in Leipzig, Germany.
“The Olympics have always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and this dream is about to come true. That being said, my selection is only the beginning of the journey. Just like athletes aspire to take their games to the highest level, I want to achieve peak performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”
The above comment clearly indicates that simply achieving selection for Rio was never going to be enough to satisfy this extremely promising young official. Now, her focus has shifted to becoming the best umpire she can possibly be by the time the global multi-sport extravaganza arrives in August.
So, what exactly is Laurine doing to take that next step forward? A great deal, it would seem.
“I recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on RisingTrack, which is a new rewards-based crowdfunding platform exclusively dedicated to sports projects”, said Laurine. “My campaign is called Whistle2Rio and is aimed at raising funds to cover my expenses for training and preparation towards the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. With a few days of my campaign remaining, I have raised more than 160% of my initial target, which has been staggering. I must admit that I didn’t expect my campaign to be such a success. Of course, it feels great to see how many people are supporting me from both inside and outside the hockey family. People who I don’t even know also want to see me do well in Rio, which gives me an incredible boost.”
At the time of writing, Laurine – who since making her international umpiring debut in 2010 has taken charge of over 50 matches at showpiece events such as the 2013 and 2015 EuroHockey Nations Championships and the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup – had received over 6600 Euros ($7,475 USD) from various donors who have been inspired her unrelenting passion and desire for self-improvement, and it is perfectly clear that every penny will be used to ensure that her development continues.
“It may not be common knowledge but being an umpire involves much more than just keeping fit and knowing the rules”, continued Laurine. "The game is getting faster and faster, dramatically increasing the difficulty of our job as umpires. The money I am raising will allow me to work on different skills together with various coaches who are all experts in their field. A fitness trainer will guide me through a specific programme targeted to the particular physical demands of umpiring a game of hockey. I will also integrate a high-end sports visual training that will enhance my decision-making skills, and last but not least, use sports psychology to improve my mental toughness and my ability to cope with pressure.”
Laurine’s drive for self-improvement has helped her reach an exceptionally high level at a very young age, but this personal professionalism – in line with 'Big Goal 2' of the FIH Hockey Revolution (to increase the degree of professionalism in the sport) is underpinned by a genuine love of umpiring.
“To me, I think umpiring is a vocation, and is as much a sport as the sport itself. Being an umpire is a tough job, but it is also very rewarding as it gives you a sense of accomplishment, like the feeling you get when completing a difficult mission. When the game is completed and no one can remember who the umpire was, you know you did your job well. Aside from that, I enjoy the social aspect of umpiring. Umpiring takes me all over the world and allows me to meet lots of amazing people.”
To find out more about Laurine's campaign, click . To see Laurine’s promotional video, click .
For more information about the Hockey Revolution, click .