Pernicious umpire training or coaching


An interesting bit of history related on Field Hockey Forum that no one picked up on. I wonder why not? I am sure there are many similar stories.

The statement that no shot other than a first hit-shot at a penalty corner can be deemed dangerous is obviously false. If we read on through the procedure for the taking of a penalty corner we come to this:-

13.1.l      for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous.

A statement which would be entirely unnecessary if it were not possible for a shot at the goal to be considered dangerous play.

Then of course there is the ball raised into an opponent from within 5m (as a shot at the goal) – an action which is stated within Rule 9.9 to be dangerous play (no matter what a idiotic television sports commentator (2008 Olympics) or a Russian FIH Umpire (2010 Women’s World Cup) might say to the contrary).

I would not have believe that report by Isfreaks – it’s bizarre (especially the bit about an umpire over-ruling a dangerous play decision made by a colleague in the colleague’s circle) – except for the fact of having had similar experiences of outrageous statements. At a Level one umpiring course taken as a refresher around 2004, as a requirement, because I had been out of the UK for several years, the course manager told the assembled, mainly novice, trainees , that a defending player hit with the ball in front of the goal should always be penalised with a penalty stroke. When asked about a dangerous shot (not by me) she said that that made no difference at all, a penalty stroke should still be awarded. I was ‘incandescent’ but the two ‘minders’ my club had sent with me, in anticipation of such provocative statements by the umpire coaches (and my likely reaction to them), kept me in my seat.

Around 2006 the Australian Hockey Association started a hockey forum on their website. In this forum an unidentified female Australian FIH Umpire made a similar “always a penalty stoke” declaration. When I posted to the forum to point out that that could not be correct because it took no account of dangerous play I was immediately banned from the forum for life. I reported this on the Talking Hockey forum. The late Gordon Stewart, known on hockey forums as Deegum, then wrote to the Australian HA forum to say that he believed that I was correct and that what had been declared by the FIH Umpire was in error. The forum was closed down shortly after. Argument with the opinions of an FIH Umpire was not to be tolerated.

Also in 2006, Keely Dunn a third level FIH Umpire joined Field Hockey Forum and in her first post (of more than 10,000) declared that a defender positioned on the goal-line caused dangerous play: starting my disagreements with many of the ‘Rules’ pronouncements that she made – she often at that time referred back for advice to an ‘insider’ at the FIH before restating her opinions. She did not reveal who the all-knowing, comfirming ‘insider’ was. Later, when she got more confidence, her ‘interpretations’ appeared to be all her own work – she was responsible for the implausible (daft but believed and accepted) invention that “aerial Rules do not apply to deflections” and the equally vacuous “aerial Rules do not apply to a shot at the goal” (Why not if a lob shot is taken?). It is still possible to find FHF contributors repeating those assertions.

Most of the above opinions relate to a raised shot at the goal and appear to have origin with an FIH ‘insider’; who could it be? Who would have the audacity to declare as Rule, opinion about dangerous play, which was directly contrary to published Rule as well as to the supposed emphasis on safety and to common sense – and apparently have the authority or have the position to force others, including established FIH Umpires and television commentators, to take notice of such declarations?  Who is the rotten apple at the centre of high level umpire training? There has to be one, it cannot be a coincidence that so many FIH Umpires have been found promoting an identical and obviously wrong “cannot be dangerous” line in umpire coaching sessions and on hockey forums: this pernicious nonsense is not coming from the FIH Rules Committee, the sole Rule Authority. You know – the people who write the rule-book.


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