South Africa’s Ayden Shrives and Laurine Delforge from Belgium are normally pursuing their international umpiring careers, but that is not the case at the Indoor Hockey World Cup. In Leipzig, the well-known whistle-blowers are here as showing their considerable playing talents as members of their respective international teams.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” Shrives said. When he was informed that he has a chance of being selected for the South African Indoor World Cup squad, he did not hesitate. “I participated in several training camps and lost 10 kilos in weight. This is also good for my umpiring.”
Being back on the pitch is no problem for him although his focus has been very different in recent years: “I always played indoor but not on this level. I focussed on my umpiring career.” As Shrives is now experiencing the Indoor World Cup as a player, his next goal is obvious: “I definitely want to represent South Africa as an umpire at an Indoor World Cup.”
Belgium’s Delforge, who was recently appointed to umpire at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, tries to differentiate between both of her hockey careers: “I’m here as a player. Of course I do know many of the umpires but here I’m not speaking that much to them because I’m a member of the Belgian team." However, Shrives states that he tries to interact with the officials too. “My friends are my friends. If I have the possibility to see them back after years I catch up with them, doesn’t matter whether I’m here as a player or as an umpire.”
Austrian Indoor World Cup umpire Michael Eilmer recently officiated alongside Shrives at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan, Malaysia. In Leipzig, Eilmer umpired South Africa’s opening match against Poland. “It was nothing special. We were shaking hands before the match, so no difference,” Eilmer said. Shrives agreed: “Yes, during the matches everybody does their job.”
When the Indoor World Cup comes to an end on Sunday, both Shrives and Delforge will switch their focus back to their outdoor umpiring careers. Shrives is already looking forward to the Hockey World League Final in India at the end of the year where he is appointed as an umpire. The 32-year-old his likely to umpire Olympic champions such as Germany’s Mo Fürste, Tobi Hauke or Thilo Stralkowski, who like Shrives have all been in action at the Indoor World Cup.
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