08 Jun 2020

Commencing in September, recent months have offered aspiring match officials many educational opportunities.

Basic Umpire, Basic Referee, National Umpire and Tournament Organisation courses have been held in the Africa, Asia and Latin America, the respective countries being Chad, Cambodia and Paraguay.

by Dora Jeler, High Performance and Development Operations Manager

In Cambodia under the guidance of Rachel Ramos, 15 participants attended a two day course to become basic umpires; the schedule concluded with a written examination and a practical assessment.

Notably, 14 participants progressed to the Basic Referee Course; overall 10 passed the requirements and will be given the opportunity to progress further towards becoming National Umpires in time for the South East Asian Games that are to be held in Cambodia in 2023.

The initiative was welcomed by Chea Bunvibol, Secretary-General of Cambodia Table Tennis Federation.

“Our Federation is targeting a three year programme to develop our umpires and referees here because so far we don’t have qualified technical officials. This is why we are very grateful that the ITTF Asia Development Office offered this very important activity here in Phnom Pehn. It will jumpstart our development plans for the umpires and referees in the country.” Chea Bunvibol

Positive remarks from Chea Bunvibol, it was the same from course member Pha Sophat, a female member of the administrative staff in the Sport Unit of the Cambodia Interior Ministry

“I was really excited when I heard that an ITTF expert is coming to Cambodia to conduct umpires and referee courses, because it gave me my first opportunity to attend courses like this. Previously I have always misunderstood about the roles and responsibilities between umpires and referees but attending both courses I now know the difference between the two. I will use the knowledge I got from the course during the table tennis competitions in Cambodia and also to share it with my colleagues in the Sport Unit of Interior Ministry. I hope there will be more courses like this in Cambodia so we can learn more.” Pha Sophat

The practical examination (Photo: Rachel Ramos)

Tournament Organisation Course

Immediately, a Tournament Organisation course was conducted on Friday 6th and Sunday 7th September at the same venue, the Sport Unit Building of the Cambodia Interior Ministry.

Overall, 12 members signed up, nine men and three women. The focus for this third and last activity centered mainly the preparation of a competition schedule with correct timing. Aside from the group work during the class, participants also had homework which they then presented the following day.

During the closing ceremony, Teng Samnang, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Cambodia Table Tennis Federation encouraged the participants to use whatever they learnt from the course in their local table tennis tournaments in order to improve the standard of tournament organisation and minimise grievances of participants.

Overall a successful course, a fact underlined by Heng Socheat, at 33 years of age, the oldest participant, a businessman and coach

“I am very satisfied with the knowledge that I got from this course. I wish the course was longer because there are still many things to learn.”

Next stop

A successful course in Cambodia, it was the same in Paraguay; the South American country hosted a Basic Referees course along with a National Umpires course, both were conducted by Costa Rica’s Silvia Garro and were held prior to the staging the Pan American Championships and the ITTF Challenge Plus Paraguay Open in Asuncion.

Thus, the host association was able to not only increase the number of newly qualified match officials, but also used the opportunity to refresh the knowledge of those already qualified. Course members Teresa Insfran and Benjamin Franco were both impressed.

“I have been an umpire for a long time in Paraguay, the course helped me to clarify some of the doubts I had, specifically after some of the changes of the rules. Also we were able to learn how to do procedures correctly and I like that we got to practise it right away during the tournament”. Teresa Insfran

“Some people may think that being an umpire and a referee is similar but the reality it is completely different. As an umpire you always have the possibility to call the referee to help you solve the situation. Now in this course you have to look at things differently and some situations are not easy”. Benjamin Franco

Course members in Paraguay with (standing fourth from left) Benjamin Real, President of the Paraguay Table Tennis Federation (Photo: courtesy of Silvia Garro)
Focus on foundations

Meanwhile in Chad, the focus was on developing the foundations of table tennis through educating match officials to become Basic Umpires, Basic Referees and Tournament Organisers.

Prior to this course, Chad had only ever hosted one national event and had their first international appearance at the African Games in Morocco last August; now the foundations are laid for future tournaments in the country.

The course conductor was Said Lanasri; he noted the positive atmosphere within the table tennis community of Chad. A general optimistic feeling was shared by coaches, players, officials and administrators. For the future, the 18 course participants are hoping to attend tournaments within the country to gain some valuable experience and advance further on the umpires and referees education pathway.

Significantly, the closing ceremony was attended by the CEO of the Youth Ministry and was widely covered by the national media.

Course members in Chad with (standing sixth from left) Said Lanasri, the course conductor (Photo: courtesy of Said Lanasri)
High Performance and Development Paraguay Cambodia Chad