English Umpires Attending:
Ian Collett, Alan Crow, Swapnil Gadkari, Ian Johnstone, Allan Potter (Roving), Bruno Rodrigues, Pradip Songara, Chris Steeden, Sak Wathansin, Pet Lim Yap. MoU: David Evans, Referee: Svend Arleth and Assistant Referee: Stephen Temple.
The Welsh International 2019 tournament this year saw a larger than normal number of English umpires attending the event. Due to the number, we were fortunate to have Allan Potter attending as roving assessor to help provide continual feedback over the week to many of our umpires. For many of the English umpires the journey to Cardiff was relatively shorter in comparison to those taken by umpires travelling from further afield, some of whom had taken multiple modes of transport at random hours of the night in order to reach the venue.
Post check-in and a quick introduction to all the umpires in the foyer, we were hurried along to the board room to the technical meeting, this year the Welsh International would be implementing the fixed height law/ devices. After getting accustomed to the devices on-court, we made our way to the pub, which was literally situated across the car park.
The next day marked the start of the tournament, with 5 courts at our disposal, play started at 9 am, after briefing at 8.30 am. Shortly after play commenced, we had Ian Collett walk onto the wrong court for his first match, which meant he was stood facing opposite Chris Taylor (U) and Ian Johnstone (SJ), who were waiting for their players during the interval between games two and three. Luckily, Ian’s service judge, Martin Godfrey, was quick to see and redirect him to the correct court !
In addition, due to an interesting camera arrangement, there was also some confusion during the morning of the first day as to the route to take when umpires walked their players onto courts 4 and 5, with some umpires choosing interesting routes around the hall (different to the one given during briefing).
As expected with events on this scale, the first two days were tiring due to the large number of matches organised, which meant we were often umpiring for almost 12 hours a day. Fortunately, great matches, good management, strong group ethos and banter helped everyone get through!
It was also verified that court 4 was in fact cursed. In a similar turn of events to the previous year’s Welsh International, play had to be delayed on court 4, after the court mat came loose and began to move.
During the week, I had an additional challenge, which was to sit my National Theory Paper (Editor’s note: which he passed – Congratulations!) and Ian Johnstone was being assessed for Continental Grade. On that note, congratulations to Ian for, in the words of the Assessor “absolutely smashing” his assessment and being promoted to Continental Grade during the week.
Evenings, after a day of hard-core umpiring, were usually spent at the pub and though I thought I’d never say this, however, our pub chats about umpiring scenarios usually became more farfetched as the evening progressed (not a direct consequence of the volume of alcohol being consumed) were particularly useful to me on the day of the exam! Following tradition, Thursday evening was Pizza night, which started in the cafeteria and continued into the early morning in the corridor after the cafeteria closed. On Friday morning a few of us over keen umpires convened on-court at 6.30 am for a morning session of badminton, which resulted in some tense matches that were comparably on par with the matches umpired.
Saturday marked the last day of the event, with the semi-finals in the morning and finals scheduled for the afternoon, with stakes high and the competition fierce, we were fortunate to witness badminton to the highest level. The officials for the finals were – (Umpire/Service Judge) MS – Marta Kaart (Estonia)/David Shore (Wales); LS – Chris Steeden/Chris Taylor (Wales); MD – Koen Kesteleyn (Belgium)/Bernd-Christian Holscher (Germany); LD – Ian Johnstone/Preben Hansen(Denmark); XD – Phillipe Morali (France)/Ian Collett
From my personal experience, having had the opportunity to umpire at a tournament on this scale alongside highly experienced umpires, was eye opening and rewarding. The Welsh International for me was an unforgettable experience, not only from a training perspective but also the kind, friendly and pleasant atmosphere that was maintained during the week. I was fortunate to interact with such dedicated umpires, referees, line judges and event staff.