by Klaus Fischer
During our conversation, the first thing she tells me is that table tennis is not the most popular sport in her home country; football, volleyball and taekwondo are far ahead of it. “But we are on the rise,” she says with a smile.
And by that she means not only men’s table tennis but also the women. It’s true that things are a little different in Iran compared to Germany, for example – men and women train strictly separated and playing at championships are not joint either.
She is able to give exact information, because before her career as an umpire she played actively herself; first in a small club, then as a sports student in the university team of Tehran and later in the extended squad of the national team. There, a coach, whom she still remembers with gratitude, told her that she should pursue a career as a coach and umpire if she wanted to remain closely connected to this beautiful sport for a long time.
Great honour: On duty at the Olympics in Tokyo
Not an easy path, but Simin pursued it with her own tenacity and determination. First she became an International Umpire followed by Blue Badge graduation which is the highest level of umpiring; the first woman with an Islamic background in Iran. Since then she has conducted countless world-class matches, including World Championships, Asian Games, several ITTF World Tour tournaments and the Grand Finals.
In Germany she knows Düsseldorf, Bremen and especially Magdeburg, because this is her second time here. She looks back on the year 2007 with some pride: in Slovakia she was awarded as the best graduate on the ITTF International Referee Degree course.
It makes her the only Islamic woman in the world having this high qualification. Her next goal: the Olympic Games. The Olympics are still missing in her collection of major events. Better to say “were missing”. She has already been nominated for Tokyo 2020 and is very excited. She will be the first female umpire in all sports from Iran.
There is no more time for the interview, because work calls again; with that charming smile on her face and her high level of expertise, I will remember Simin Rezaie as an endearing sports ambassador for her country.