Hockey umpires sharpen skills

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Going into the winter sports season it is not just the players wanting to develop their game.

Hockey New Zealand’s technical manager, Colin French, visited Eastern Southland Hockey on Saturday to help the association’s umpires. The visit was part of French’s four-day tour of Southland and Central Otago.

“I have been visiting all the associations and talking with umpires to see where they are in need of support from Hockey New Zealand.

“It is about seeing what kind of resources and support we can provide,” French said.

Umpires were also encouraged to ask questions about the rules.

The association had a good reputation of bringing through officials, with former Gore resident Gareth Greenfield umpiring at a high level, French said. Greenfield officiated in the National Hockey League final last year, and was qualified to umpire internationally.

French said while they hoped to identify people like Greenfield the main focus of the visits was to look after those who helped run the associations.

Hockey New Zealand technical manager Colin French discusses refereeing with Craig McKinnell and Liz MacLean at the Eastern Southland Hockey Turf. PHOTO: SIMON KNYVETT

Hockey at the junior levels was one of the the fastest-growing sports in New Zealand, he said.

The national body recognised the need to develop more coaches and umpires.

“We also want to make sure the people in these roles are brought up to skill properly so players enjoy the game.”

There was always a need for more coaches and umpires in an association.

“A bulk of players actually make very good umpires as they understand the game,” French said.