Monday, January 18, 2010

MHF Umpires - "They maybe the best available but are they doing their job properly?"

"This is the best available in the country," is a common statement made by sports administrators in defence when their sports come under scrutiny or criticism. The latest of whom is the Chairman of MHF Umpires Board (UB), who was responding to the comments of the team manager of one of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) teams on the poor standard of umpiring at the MHL matches.

Amarjit Singh as Chairman of the UB, is without doubt Malaysia's pride in the hockey umpiring world and he has "blown" in numerous renowned international tournaments including a number of their finals. Amarjit continued and at times emulated what was done by people like the late John Kanagaratnam, Datuk Vijiyanathan,Titus Havelock, the late N Valupillay, Lee Cheng Poh and the late V T Duray (Thamby). These are a special breed of officials who could compete with the best in the world of hockey umpiring and come out top.

So when a distinguished personality like Amarjit Singh makes such a statement, I become concerned whether it is a "guarded" statement. He states it is the best available and he could be right. He further emphasises that they can be compared with the international umpires and this is where I may agree to disagree with him and I have my reasons.

My disagreement arises because of the following matters that have taken place at the fields:
  • Players shouting obscene language during the game.
  • Players protesting on decisions of the umpires by harassing them or throwing their sticks to the ground in disgust.
  • Team officials and some senior players have confronted umpires after matches with abusive language.

In all these cases it would seem the umpires have chosen to adopt the "3 monkeys" philosophy ie "I no see", "I no hear" and "I no talk". No action whatsoever is taken by the umpires and like many things they may not want any controversy. Therefore sweeping it under the carpet would be an ideal solution for the umpires including technical officials.

What the umpires do not understand is the players, officials and spectators become aware of this. They may not realise but people do talk about it. In essence what the umpires are doing is condoning bad behavior both on and off the ground. These are discipline matters and the more it is swept under the carpet, the more dirt is being collected. Then there would be layers and layers and to remove them would be difficult particularly as it starts to "stain" Malaysian hockey. Indeed discipline issues have on many occasions unsettled the senior national team.

Again we have to ask why players and officials turn to such behavior against umpires. I believe it is what the umpires do in the game that seem to be creating the outbursts. Some of them are as follows:

  • Making wrong decisions.
  • Inconsistencies in decision making.
  • Influenced by current and former senior international players during the game.
  • Failure to control the game properly.

In tense situations as frustration builds up and the lack of anger management in teams both with players and officials, various unnecessary instantaneous emotional outbursts manifest which I have outlined much earlier. While it is not good for the game, it is sacrosanct that the umpires must be respected and decisions followed despite the countless repetitive errors.

This is where if both umpires and team management make formal complaints rather then just confronting the umpires, then at least Amarjit and the UB would have something to go by to investigate the issues. Sweeping under the carpet by umpires, technical officials and the various team management does not help in wanting to improve the overall situation of umpiring. Sometimes the fear that umpires in defence of their colleagues may victimise the teams, may act as a hindrance to formally raise the issues.

This is where I believe Amarjit and the UB must review matters carefully. Maybe one of the solution is to have reputed retired umpires doing "checks" on the current umpires during the MHL matches to judge if they are performing satisfactorily. Again MHF must ask the technical officers to ensure that umpires are not harassed after the game. Finally umpires have to be strict with players and do not give them the room to display their emotional outburst. The issues must be "nipped at the bud".

So Amarjit, I must state that the current "crop" of umpires have not reached anywhere near your calibre when you were in their position. This is why I disagree with you that they are comparable to international umpires.


kavi said...

Amarjit Singh done nothing for the development umpires . Development of Umpires done by the previous Umpires Board Chairman Mr.Yasu. During his tenur he groom up all the young umpires we have now. He already holding the post for than
1 year. The Umpiring standard never improve, we have have blame Amarjit

darthvadai said...

Dear Sir, I believe the title of the topic hits it right on the nail.

Are the umpires doing their job properly?

To answer that we must look at the mechanism in place to check this. Game evaluation, Match Inspectors, Technical Officers capable of making proper review of matches. Granted there may not be enough $$ to look at Match inspectors but the role of Umpires Manager (UM) come into play in these occasions.

The UM both independently and collectively with the Technical Officer must do joint evaluations with the Umpiring team for the match.

With that mechnism in place we can say ... "Hey Guys, we have dat in place and this is what we are doing! This is the system in place... we have X number of umpire they have done this many games this is their rating. Yeah there are some good and some bad. The only down side to this is people will use this as ammunition against the umpires. Who said it was a fair world!!

Frankly its a dog-eat-dog world out there.

The final piece of this area, is such practice in place and these evaluation forwarded to the Technical Committee that does the appointment in a case by case basis. Then you can justify and fight back against comments and unnecessary remarks.

Integrity & Courage

The very players who harass and protect and do all the things you said wont even dare do it in an international arena. Is it coz they think they can get away with it? Or we are too weak to take action? And if we do take action as an Umpire will they back us up?

We all watch foreign match Umpires makes a good decision, good advantage lauded and applauded at the same time he makes a bad call he is criticized. Whats the beauty in this is they have the courage and integrity to say they are Right or they were Wrong.

Time and time again we have seen heard Umpires being made scapegoats and at the receiving end of brickbats. They get whacked by both sides and have little or no room to hit back. They bound by the Code of Conduct that they and the teams sign and yet surprisingly the Teams are not taken to task should they breach it but every ready to use it against a match official.

Dog-eat-dog world

I struggle to recall the last time i read in a by line or heard or seen in an interview "The Umpire had a good game." You will never hear these 5 words.

Lets look on the flip side, the player made and pass, a clumsy tackle, the keeper making a silly mistake you dun find the Teasm blaming them out right. We got to have the courage to call a spade a spade. Until that time its a dog-eat-doe out world there

Thank you Sir for allowing me to comment as I will be adding this to my blog as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bro,

It is disgrace to see non qualified umpires blowing the MHL Leauge. They always get it wrong when come 2 make a 50/50 decision, They seems to favour more established clubs.

I have noticed most of the decision given against a less established club end up goal scoring by the established clubs.

Mr. Amarjit, Plese do something then wasting time with bunch of loosers drinking till wee hours.

Anonymous said...

I was in Malacca to watch some good hockey games . Since long I witnessed some quality games. The game as changed a lot from my playing days in the 80's. Thanks to MHF for getting ideas to promote hockey in this manner .Good to see young umpires in action not bad.
But it was shocking to hear from a hockey fan sitting beside me who is involved in hockey commenting on the coaches of the National League teams. I had left hockey scenario for long but it was shocking when I asked him who are the coaches handling the TNB and KLHC teams. He just answered that 3 teams KLHC,TNB and Sapura has got "puppet coaches", MayBank is totally coached by player not the coach, Nur Insafi has got "15 coaches" all foreigners , their coach only shouts at umpires and the UNIKL has got 3 coaches whereby the team plays according to the structure made by the Future Project Junior World Cup Team Coach beacuse 8 players are from the team.
It was shocking for me wether the coaching division of MHF does produce coaches or not. The teams if they can't get coaches , they should hire teachers. In the 80's there were good, dedicated and knowledgeable hockey coach teachers like Teng Cheng Leong, Vincent Fernandez, Vivekanadan,Pritam Sing , T.C Sharma,Malik Kiew, Sivapatamsundram, Tejar Singh. I hope they are around and active.
It is sad to hear that National League teams are coached by players and 3rd party.
Coaching Division of MHF should help teams to get coaches.

Former Malacca player.

Anonymous said...

I was in Malacca last saturday with my family and saw all the games. It was so nice to see all the team was playing for a win dispite the leauge champions was known in JB.

Well done to all coaches & players for the commitment shown in Malacca. To my suprise that there was an incident within Sapura & Nur Insafi game that former national captain was abusing a match offical and scouted free without any card.

Why is the umpire allowed himself to be abussed by the players. Dont u think thats was atleast a yellow card?

Mr. Kuhan, u should control yr tamper and what my kids saw of your behaviour, they r suprised that the National Team had such a captain before.

Lets have some respect for the officals and set a good example to young kids.. u was their idol before.

Anonymous said...

They way forward to improve the standard of umpiring. Forget about numbers. Go for improving quality with whatever we have. During a game, apart from umpires, there are teams with the captain, coaches and managers who have a direct interest to the game. NOT the Umpires chairman or the Umpires Manager. Sad to say these two are the one who come up with a stereo type assessment on the umpires. Just check the background of the umpires we have these days. They hardly played any good hockey even in school hockey. So its education time now. How? After every game
Step 1: A video session on their positioning guided by people like Amarjit Singh. Highlight important aspects and not the whole game.
Step 2: Get the Captain and Managers to have a video session together with the Umpires chaired by people like Amarjit.Make it a forum on some of the crucial decisions. Lets analyze. Get out from Malaysian mentality of saying this won't happen. People will fight instead. Its education time for all involved.
Step 3: Learn from the best.If a player questions an umpire for any decision, the umpire is obliged to give the reason. This is what happens in Euro games and the champions trophy. Umpires are like Magistrate and they should oblige to this. Not to take that as a threat. If its wrong just reverse.

I remember one of our very senior umpire use to say this " Coaches blame umpires for their poor coaching". The point is look within you how to improve the standard. This is education time and lets get the first phase moving. Guess what is the next phase?

Anonymous said...

A good final...screwed by the umpires...

How the hell can the umpiring board chooses unfit personal to umpire the final?

Everybody saw in the tv that sapura was denied 2 penalty stroke. Thank you 2 Amarjit for screewing the final.

Anonymous said...

Dear donkey comments, umpires are also humans. They also make mistakes. Even in WC Maradona scored with hands and recently T. Hendry scored for France by hand and they qualified for WC.
If you watch the games, all the players including reserves and officials shout & scream to umpires. Add to that, spectators who some don't know rules & latest changes also shout at umpires. How do you want them to do a good job?
If can't take pressure don't take up umpiring will be your comment. Then who will do If you think you all are good and have qualities to be umpiring,please take up umpiring. Malaysia needs umpires. If not please shut up. Easy to give comments but to do the job is not easy.