18 Feb 2019

A cold day in Suwon City, an hour distant by car from Seoul; the lightly snow covered road was slippery; nevertheless, the hotel on the hill was packed with table tennis people.

Organised by the Korea Table Tennis Association on the weekend of Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th February, no less than 141 officials attended the Annual International Umpires Conference; intensive but it was an occasion full of joy and laughter.

by Young-sam Ma, Chair ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee

The participants had the opportunity to learn about recent changes undertaken by the International Table Tennis Federation; they were made aware of the new umpiring system and discussed how to become better accustomed.

Furthermore, it was a golden opportunity for the umpires to review revised rules and regulations, to share their know-how and experiences at international events. Group discussions on the subject of “Knotty Problems” highly enhanced their understanding of unfamiliar cases in the field of play. Notably, Saturday’s session continued into the late night.

A highly successful day concluded, the second day was devoted to the peer evaluation system, which is very similar to the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee evaluation process. Many umpires agreed that this evaluation system proved good for self-improvement through the feedback process. They exchanged views on further ways it could be improved. My task was to deliver a special lecture on “How to Become Good Umpires”; the address included many detailed case studies.

One of the highlights of the programme was the lecture on how to prevent violence and sexual harassment in sport; this is a very visible issue in Korea since an Olympic gold medalist recently joined the # ME-TOO movement.

The Conference post-survey showed the initiative was extremely helpful for umpires to perform their duties in a correct manner; most pertinently, Insook Park, Chair of the Korea Umpires and Referees Committee, promised she will attempt to arrange another such meeting for next year.

Intense discussions, long hours but there was goodwill mixed with an air of conviviality. A lottery was organized; each participant brought one or two prizes and gave them to the organizer. Lots were drawn during breaks, so everyone left with a gift; happy memories.

A most successful venture, one in which women far exceeded men; overall 114 female umpires attended as opposed to 27 male counterparts; all worked happily together, respect paramount, the end result a most successful venture.

Young-sam Ma addresses the meeting (Photo: courtesy of Young-sam Ma)
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Umpires and Referees Korea Table Tennis Association