Whether or not you’re familiar with the Shrek films, I’m sure you’ll agree that having been confined to barracks and denied overseas umpiring trips for some time, it’s great to be back on the road again. And so it was that I ventured outside of UK shores for a visit to Dublin and the Irish Open.
Back in 2017, Ireland was one of my first overseas trips, so notwithstanding the additional paperwork demands for leaving the country, I was looking forward to renewing acquaintances on the Emerald Isle and making new ones, and it didn’t disappoint. Covid protocols did little to dampen spirits and while mask wearing made communication a tad more tricky, the twenty strong team of umpires and crew of both domestic and overseas line judges worked together and fulfilled our duties with a smile (it was there behind the masks!).
The tournament was also being used by six candidates to undergo assessment for BE Accreditation, plus another four attending the pre assessment workshop. Being used to a culture now of being ‘watched’ and given fairly immediate feedback, this felt a strange experience, knowing the assessors were out there and observing, but not getting anything in the way of comments and almost wanting to make sure they definitely knew you were part of the assessment!
The week was rounded off on Saturday with service judging the men’s singles final between Denmark and Malaysia, for which I received a lovely engraved medal as a memento. After that, it was a short hop to the airport for my flight home, narrowly avoiding a possible intervention by security staff when at check in when I confidently declared my surname to be Hatton, temporarily forgetting that on my passport and plane ticket I was still Ryan.
If you haven’t been, the Irish is a super friendly event and definitely one to put on your umpiring bucket list.