Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge develops female umpires
A development programme for emerging female umpires was one of the spinoffs of this years' SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge. The initiative was facilitated by The Umpiring Company. It was established in Gqeberha to support umpires in a professional and legal capacity as well as to help further their umpiring dreams.
The programme is led by Adam Postepski, who started umpiring six years ago.
"I noticed that there were a lot of umpires who needed support and I just found that this aspect, as well as upskilling, was not at the level one would have expected."
The Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge has been running in the Eastern and Southern Cape since 2016 and involves hundreds of players competing in five regional tournaments with the winners going to the provincial finals.
In a first, last months' finals in Gqeberha were officiated by four females, namely
Des Telfer, Nicole Kemp, Farzaana Fredericks and Brooke Kruger. This was in line with SPAR’s focus on the upliftment of women as well as highlighting the importance of equal representation in sport.
Kemp said her motivation was to make a difference in Eastern Cape hockey by becoming more involved rather than complaining about sub-par umpiring.
"I especially want to help up-and-coming umpires to grow and to continue to serve the game. This tournament is a great chance for us and every opportunity to umpire is a lesson learnt," she said.
Telfer, a former hockey player, said she wanted to give something back and that led to her taking up the whistle. She added that she loved the event and that the umpiring had been of a good standard.
"It shows that they can officiate in the leagues and I’m hoping the younger ones will step up to the plate."
Kruger started umpiring at the age of 15 so that she could stay involved in the sport after school and said the hockey challenge had been a good opportunity to measure her progress.
The shorter 25-minute matches in this competition put more pressure on umpires, she noted.
It was Fredericks’ debut outing at the Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge and she was thrilled to be a part of it. Fredericks hoped to inspire the next generation to become involved in officiating.
"In this way we can increase the number of umpires in our province and grow the game. Regardless of who you are – a player, coach, manager or umpire – there is always room for growth,' she said.