FIH Technical Seminar

Hockey experts examine the duties of Tournament Directors

Scotland's Evlyn Raistrick reports:

A unique and comprehensive seminar for top Tournament Directors took place in Paris in November. Many experts in different aspects of hockey found time to give their views despite the very busy schedule of F.I.H. meetings. The seminar was held as a result of the recommendations of a small Working Group of the FIH Competitions Committee who had been given a remit: the Identification, Training and Development of Technical Officials.

The working group, Jean Claude le Clef (Belgium), Alberto Budeisky (Argentina), Jae Won Shim (Korea) and myself, held a preliminary and short seminar in Egypt over a year ago. This identified the need for a comprehensive training programme involving the top Tournament Directors from all over the world.

We were delighted when over 60 people attended the Paris seminar, with delegates representing Africa (6 representatives), Americas (9), Asia (6), Europe (17) and Oceania (5).

Els van Breda-Vriesman, the FIH Hon. General Secretary, welcomed everyone. She referred to consistency and co-operation across the technical team; the background and varied experience of current TDs; and the necessary change in philosophy now that sports are driven by television, entertainment, sponsors and promotion. The objectives she set were to achieve "Consistency in quality management to meet today's needs in tournament and event management". These proved to be the key areas for discussion by the various speakers.

Cordon Blue recipe

Steve Jaspan (RSA), defined the role of the Competitions Committee - the organisation and administration that sits behind major events - and the appointment of the technical team, mixing experienced officials with developing officials. Steve referred to the Cordon Blue recipe to get the correct blend of the team and the need for consistency - "to be playing to the same music sheet".

The seminar then moved on to deal with matters before the appointment of the TD. Peter Cohen (AUS) dealt with the role of the FIH in terms of the contract with the host country and administration prior to the start of tournaments. Peter touched on the role of the FIH Liaison Officer who is appointed to monitor all arrangements prior to the commencement of an event. Bob Davidzon (NED), with his vast experience which included the 1998 World Cup, then spoke on the organisational structure required by the host country and its observance of legal and contractual agreements. Adrien Peters, from the FIH office, talked about the information flow from Brussels.

Eric Donegani (CAN) built his presentation around the technical team, explaining the role of the TD prior to and at the beginning of the tournament. He stressed the importance of contact with the other technical officials to establish shared responsibilities, citing the Umpires Manager, to agree an approach to umpiring appointments, and the Medical and Media Officers, to establish working relationships.

The point was made that the uniform, equipment, passport and team list checks, has been carried out before the manager's briefing meeting at recent major events.

Fast balls

David Whittle, the Great Britain team manager, asked delegates to think as a "team manager", to identify what was important for the teams, to understand the need to be fair, consultative and, where necessary, pragmatic.

Whittle introduced delegates to cricket, some for the first time, in a game of fast balls (hockey questions). Two teams, led by John Giles (AUS) and Wiert Doyer (NED) attempted to out-score each other. Some dubious decisions by the umpire, Ken Read (AUS), suggested the need for a third official. In delegate feedback the presentation from David received top marks. Janet Ellis (CAN) then dealt with the need for consistency pitch side which she said team managers sought and officials at the technical table should seek to deliver.

Contact with Media

Kathleen Watson (JAM) spoke of the role of the Medical Officer for all involved - players, officials, ground staff and spectators, and advised of two new manuals, one on Inclement Weather, the other on Ground Safety.

Nick Irvine (ENG), as ever, entertained. He described his experiences as Media Officer at the Champions Trophy in Amstelveen and at the Sydney Olympics. He encouraged TD's to keep the media informed at all times but to be aware of the "off the record" comment.

He regarded it as essential that the TD had the most recent media guidelines, had daily contact with the press and that the TD fully appreciated the role of the media and media centre. He suggested standing "a round of drinks" was much appreciated!

A session on umpires and the umpires' manager was chaired by Roger Self (ENG). As a member of the Competitions Committee and Umpires Committee Liaison Group, he emphasised the importance of TD's understanding the development programme that had been established by the Umpires Committee. This, he felt, would lead to a better and more enlightened approach when making umpiring appointments at a tournament.

Graham Nash (ENG) spoke in more detail on the Promising / Developing umpires list. He advised that it was crucial for marks and comments by the TD to be correctly recorded so that they could be used to shape these ongoing lists. Corrine Pritchard (NZ), in answering questions on the relationship between the TD and the Umpire's Manager, expanded on the roles, especially when the UM might be more experienced than the TD.

Alain Renaud (FRA), in inimitable fashion, provided a short interlude on consistency of rules interpretation! It was appropriate that the final presentation in this part of the programme was by Annabel Dillon (SIN), one of the TD's at the Sydney Olympics, who, in presenting to the delegates the challenge, "Are you the next Olympic TD", summarised the personal qualities necessary to manage the human and technical resources and deliver the consistency and quality of management that major events now require.

Two excellent presentations followed - by Aaron Sher (on Information Technology) and by David Burt (The Importance of Presentation at Major Events). Both again provided the challenge for delegates to see the bigger picture. Interestingly delegates felt that each of these presentations could have benefited a wider FIH audience.

Open Forum

At the end of a long day, there was not much time for the Open Forum but Roger Self, Bob Davidzon and Graham Nash dealt with delegate's questions which included, what if?, dealing with the unexpected and crisis management. Delegate feedback was naturally varied. Most considered it had been a very worthwhile exercise. Many did feel that too much had been fitted into one day and that two days would have been better. Others suggested there had been too much repetition and not enough delegate inter-action. All, undoubtedly, enjoyed the "outsider" presentations from David Whittle, Aaron Sher, Nick Irvine and David Burt.

Many of the comments throughout the seminar confirmed the need to share information. While there is obvious need for more seminars of this nature, it was felt that a lot could be achieved by improving the electronic communication from the FIH office. Tournament officials would then be kept better informed of many matters, such as the most recent developments, amendments to tournament regulations, rule changes.

Such information would lead to consistency across all tournaments. It would also open the way for dialogue. Without a doubt, the time has surely come for a technical official's "chat line".

The report of the seminar will be available in early 2001. In conjunction with the Development and Coaching Committee it is hoped to incorporate many of the seminar outcomes and recommendations into training resources for technical officials.