Monday, April 16, 2007

Umpires should not shoulder all the blame


UMPIRES officiating at the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) have come under
heavy fire from team managers and coaches for making dubious, and
sometimes silly decisions on the pitch, but the blame does not rest on
their shoulders alone.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation Umpires Board (MHFUB) have done little
over the years to impove the standard of umpiring in the country and on
Friday, Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA) secretary V. Rajamanickam
burst out after watching Maninderjit Singh of Andersen being sent to the
sin bin for a mild tackle.
"What kind of umpiring is that. That fault only deserves a warning, a
yellow card is simply to much," said Raja.
After cooling down a little, Raja said he does not blame the umpires,
because the MHFUB have been doing little to upgrade their standard. He
also pointed out cases of souble standard when it comes to promoting the
"For the past five years, 2,500 candidates sat for the umpires
examinations nationwide but only 250 have made the grade because the
passing mark of 85 per cent is simply too high.
"If the MHFUB is serious about having a larger and more capable pool of
umpires, they should lower the passing mark, which was set in the 60s, so
that more interested candidates can start blowing the whistle," said Raja.
Off the 250, most of whom are teachers and college students who lose
interest after a few years because the rules of upgrading are too archaic
and rigid, only about 10 umpires are now actively officiating at matches
and sometines, an umpire has to blow two matches in two days involving the
same team.
On double standards, Raja pointed out the promotion of two umpires in
Sabah during a zonal competition while one umpire in Kuala Lumpur was
referred to the rules book when the time came for upgrading.
"There is a two-year waiting period before an umpire can be upgraded to
the next level and this is where we lose some of them. Iskandar Rashdan
Mohamed Ali was appointed for upgrading during the Champion Schools in
Malacca but the MHFUB reversed their decision when they found out that he
has not completed the two-year waiting period.
"On one hand, they bend the rules by promoting umpires at zonal
competitions, wheres the MHFUB rules state that umpires can only be
upgraded during national tournaments, but in Iskandar's case, they brought
out the constitution book and stopped a budding umpire from being upgrad
ed," said Raja.
Raja also revealed that there was no refresher course from the MHFUB
before the MHL so that umpires who have not been regularly blowing on the
pitch, could catch up with the latest.
"What is the MHFUB trying to do? They are slowly killing off interested
umpires and by not conducting a refresher course, they have made the
umpiring at the MHL, a mockery," said Raja.
Maybank's Wallace Tan and Bank Simpanan Nasional's C. Paramalingam are
some of the coaches who have hit out at the standard of umpiring in the
"If the chairman of the MHFUB (V. Kulasingam) does not do something
fast, in 10 years time they are going to find it difficult even to find
umpires for the MHL," said Raja.
To strenghten his case, Raja pointed out that Mej Jagit Singh from Perak
obtained 92 per cent in the 1997 umpires theory examinations and was later
upgarded to Class One but he gave up umpiring in 2000.
And in 1997 when Jagjit emerged top of the class, only 12 passed the
theory examinations out of 301 candidates because the passing mark of 85
per cent was simply too high.
"In Europe, they are not so rigid about the passing mark. Maybe the
MHFUB should meet and amend their constitution so that the passing mark
can be lowered.
"They (MHFUB) should also start promoting interested umpires based on
their performance and do away with the two-year waiting period which is
killing the profession," said Raja.