High performance sport is not just about those who compete. Acting as an umpire, referee or official can be another way to get involved at the highest level of sport and be equally as rewarding.
Local hockey umpire Dougal Perfitt is quickly rising through the ranks with ambitions to officiate at the top of the game, targeting future Olympics or World Cup competitions.
‘I’ve been lucky enough to have umpired a few high-profile games now,’ said Dougal.
‘The men’s Oxford v Cambridge varsity was pretty special; there was a big crowd in and of course it’s one of the most famous sporting fixtures around. Also, one of the recent internationals between England and Germany U21s was good fun, and as quality goes that was right up there. Of course, Guernsey v Jersey in the inter insular deserves a mention!’
Dougal started playing hockey at Elizabeth College and with Guernsey Hockey at the age of 7 but was encouraged to take up umpiring in his teens.
‘My Dad, Stuart, has been my main inspiration as when I was 14, he handed me a whistle and helped me pass my Level 1 umpiring qualification.’
Dougal then officiated in Guernsey for three seasons.
‘Learning in Guernsey was great; the domestic leagues are really competitive and it’s easy to get feedback on your performances.
‘I then moved to Nottingham for university and joined the East Midlands Hockey Umpiring Association. While in the Midlands I managed to get onto the National Young Umpiring Promising List (NYUPL), which was great as I was able to travel around to tournaments in the country, getting plenty of coaching and assessments. When Covid hit I had a year in Guernsey umpiring in the local leagues and was delighted to pick up Guernsey hockey umpire of the year 2020/21.’
Since then, Dougal hasn’t looked back, being selected to umpire at the Futures Cup last summer, officiating at the U18 boys’ final. This then led to his first national league game last season gaining his Level 2 and Level 3 umpiring qualifications along the way, meaning he is now able to umpire at the highest level in England.
‘To be a good official in any sport, you need to be consistent, have fair judgment, communicate well with players/teams, and of course be honest,’ said Dougal.
‘I think above all else, don’t over complicate anything, you can only umpire what you see in front of you!
‘Being able to be on the pitch and very much involved with national league/international hockey teams and players is a great feeling. Umpires get the best view on the pitch and to be that close to the action is great. I also love the management side of it; for me if I can add value to the quality of the game, I’m doing something right.
‘To me, umpiring hockey is a sport in itself. I do a lot of running and of course you have to make fast paced decisions like you would have to do in if you were playing, so like scoring a goal, getting a big decision right can give you a real buzz.’
Dougal is keen to encourage others to consider moving into umpiring or officiating.
‘If you’ve ever thought about umpiring or officiating then give it a go. I know it’s not for everyone, but I absolutely love it and find it hugely rewarding.
‘If you’ve played the sport before then you already have an advantage, you as a player will be able to read the game and umpiring is exactly the same.
‘The advice I would give would be to trust your judgment. What you see 9 times out of 10 is what happened, so go with your gut. Players and crowds will always try to influence your decision, but you need to block that out and do what you think is right.’
If anyone is interested in following in Dougal’s footsteps, then please contact Guernsey Hockey.