by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Currently the Young Umpires Project is in place, the deadline for applications to officiate in Buenos Aires is closing fast; the cut off date is Sunday 1st October 2017.
It is a chance to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Poland’s Rafal Zlezarczyk; an umpire who benefitted from the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Young Umpires Project was.
Recently, he was interviewed by Dejan Papic, ITTF Education and Training Co-ordinator
What were you expectations before entering the course?
I applied for the second edition of the Young Umpires Project as a national umpire at the age of 19, so I did not expect so much. I wanted to get some experience and improve my knowledge. For sure I was not thinking about going for the Youth Olympic Games in China. My biggest dream at that time was to pass the course and exam and become an International Umpire during the project; when after the exam I was selected for the Youth Olympic Games, I was of course extremely happy and I knew that it would be a great experience for me.
What was your experience in 2014 Youth Olympic Games?
It was the first international event outside the country for me so everything was completely new. The organization, atmosphere, the people there, everything was really impressive.
Concerning the umpiring we all tried to do our best and to gain as much experience as possible. We had also a great referee there, Kirill Mazaev who took care of our very young group.
It was also a great opportunity to meet new colleagues from all over the world who shared the same passion. Now we are all still in good contact and sometimes we go to the tournaments together.
Did the Young Umpires Project accelerate your career as an official?
Definitely yes; I learned a lot from the course conductors during Young Umpires Project. It was also a good that we could discuss many interesting cases via the online platform. Thanks to the Young Umpires Project I also reached my International Umpire status that gives me the opportunity to participate in international tournaments.
What was your road after the Youth Olympic Games in 2014?
Immediately after the Youth Olympic Games I started to apply for international tournaments; since 2014 I have been to around 20 international events including the World Junior Championships, ITTF World Tour Platinum Series and World Championships.
In 2016 I managed to pass the Advanced Referees Exam and at the beginning of 2017 I qualified as a Blue Badge Umpire being 23 years old. After that my biggest achievement was Men’s Singles final this year in Düsseldorf during World Championships.
For sure the first step was applying for Young Umpires Project in 2013. Without this project I would not be where I am now.
What would you advice be those applying for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games?
Try to take as much as possible from the programme and do your best during throughout course and when sitting the examination. I hope it will be the beginning of great table tennis adventure!