03 Sep 2017

Commencing on Thursday 24th August and concluding on Monday 28th August, Norway’s capital city, Oslo, was the home for a first ever National Referees Course.

Let by Germany’s Michael Zwipp, most notably the Referee for the London 2012 Olympic Games, the five day initiative was organised under the auspices of the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee in conjunction with the European Table Tennis Union and the Norwegian Table Tennis Association.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

An established programme for promoting umpiring exists in Norway and has proved successful; currently both Karl Börre Reite and Torstein Rønningen are Blue Badge Umpires.

Thus the course under the direction of Michael Zwipp was very much to complement an already successful system by focusing on refereeing; invitations were send to neighbouring north European countries with notably two of the course members travelling from Denmark.

“Oslo, a great city, very modern buildings and a high standard of living; it’s a dynamic business city where sport in general has a high priority. The course took place in the office part of the Ulleval Stadium in the heart of Oslo. Many sport organizations have their head offices there and provide national training for athletes. The stadium is surrounded by many shops and restaurants, a perfect concept to link the needs of business, sport and social activities together.” Michael Zwipp

Racket testing was a subject high on the agenda (Photo: courtesy of Michael Zwipp)


A splendid environment but a full itinerary formed the menu; it was start at 9.00am and conclude late in the evening.

“The programme has been redesigned recently and is part of the ITTF Referee Education package. The agenda included a broad range of subjects to illustrate the tasks and responsibilities of a good referee. In addition to various presentations delivered by the instructor, the candidates had to manage group work, perform role play and respond on supplementary overnight assignments. The main matters included the interpretation of rules, the draw, scheduling, field of play preparation, para table tennis and the art of refereeing.” Michael Zwipp

Time passed quickly; certainly it was hard work for the candidates who were required to assimilate new information whilst also completing tests and resolving situations in group assignments.

“It was very enjoyable too, specifically when role play was performed to manage call area procedures, conduct a draw or to solve a critical match situation.” Michael Zwipp

Importantly, the National Referees course provides a very solid base for progress to international referee status; the contents not only cover the vital factors, also there is an element of flexibility in learning situations.

“We also managed to collect many ideas on how to setup a country specific National Referee course for the future.” Michael Zwipp

Contributing in a positive manner to the organizational items of tournaments was the very clear message from Michael Zwipp; in some instances assuming certain roles currently undertaken by local organisers.

Addressing situations that may occur caused positive discussion (Photo: courtesy of Michael Zwipp)


Most certainly, the efforts of Michael Zwipp were greatly appreciated by all present; especially by Oivind Eriksen, Head of Technical Committee in Norway and Jens Gullberg, Chair of Danish Umpires Committee.

“This will set a common standard for all tournaments and will improve the overall presentation of our sport.” Oivind Eriksen

“We picked up much information about referee work and we will think about how to develop also our own national referee programme.” Jens Gullberg

Positive responses from experienced course members; it was the same from all course members; a fact greatly appreciated by Michael Zwipp.

“I am very happy we did this course in Oslo. A starting point has been defined for national referee development in Norway and Denmark. New motivated people have taken the road to gain more refereeing assignments. I hope, to see some of them taking the next step to attend an international school sometime in the future; my thanks to the Norwegian Table Tennis Association for organizing this event.

Alongside Michael Zwipp, the host nation’s Don Alexander, Kim-Erling Bolstad-Larssen, Oivind Eriksen and Anders Hovden attended the gathering, as did Karl Borre Reite, Mahta Souri, and Marianne Troppen Horness. Meanwhile both Janni Andreassen and Jens Gullberg Hansen travelled from Denmark.

Roll play proved an enjoyable element of the course (Photo: courtesy of Michael Zwipp)
World Cup Umpires and Referees Michael Zwipp