Hockey India introducing the open application and registration process for tournament officials on their member unit portal has largely helped several young and upcoming umpires and technical officials apply and register, feels 40-year-old Rohini Bopanna who was recently promoted to the FIH Technical Official - Advancement Panel.
In June this year, Hockey India introduced a user-friendly, easy-to-access process where a tournament official candidate can submit his or her application through the Hockey India member unit portal. Once the application is submitted, the concerned Hockey India registered member unit under which the tournament official is submitting will approve following which the national federation will provide final approval to confirm the registration.
"Earlier, there would be times when interested umpires and technical officials would send in physical forms to their state member units but it would either get misplaced or the office would forget to forward the application to Hockey India. It was also very time consuming and required constant follow-ups but this new process is very easy and in a way, puts us directly in touch with the national federation. The system is very transparent and hence it has generated a lot of interest," stated Bopanna who began umpiring in 2014.
Bopanna feels the federation's proactive approach has encouraged several women to take up umpiring and technical officiating either as a part time or a full-time occupation. "Back when I began, there were a few women from Delhi in umpiring, but regular seminars and workshops conducted by Hockey India encouraged more women from Mumbai, Haryana and other states to register and take up officiating at the domestic level."
"Earlier there would mostly be men officiating at women's nationals but now the scenario has changed and this proactive approach by Hockey India is encouraging many state-level players to get certified as umpires or technical officials," she said.
With no tournaments yet, Hockey India continues to engage the umpires and technical officials with regular webinars either conducted by the national governing body or the Asian Hockey Federation/FIH. "We all thought we won't have anything to do till 2021 due to COVID-19 but with these regular interactive sessions, we are kept busy and it has been very helpful," she added.