As part of National Badminton Week and Women in Sport we interviewed one of Ireland’s most experienced umpires Carol Uí Fhearghail to get an insight into what umpiring the sport of badminton in Ireland and abroad entails.
When was the first time you started umpiring?
“I started umpiring in 1995 during a graded event in Leinster Badminton centre on Whitehall Road. My first match was men’s doubles on court 3. I was nervous but excited to be doing my first tournament. It turned out to be a difficult match to umpire as one of the players walked off court towards the end of the game as he had an epileptic fit.”
What inspired you to start umpiring?
“I was playing a match and my opponent made a decision I wasn’t happy with so I decided to learn the rules and take the initial training course.”
How many countries in Europe have you umpired in and which is your favourite?
“I have umpired in 22 different countries across Europe. I always love travelling and umpiring in France as it is where I umpired in my first International tournament with the BWF.”
What was the most difficult match you had to umpire?
“Definitely the most difficult match I had to umpire was the women’s doubles gold medal match at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The match was Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei of China against Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa of Japan. Umpiring in front of so many cameras and photographers was daunting.”
For the umpires what rule are players pulled up the most on?
“It is easily service. It is also what we as umpires find the hardest to make a ruling on as every umpire might see it slightly differently. It one of the rules or aspects of umpiring that needs to be improved on in some way.”
What do you think of the best of 5 games to 11 points format currently being tested?
“Personally I don’t think it improves the game. It seems to suit the fast paced players better than the slower players.”
Have you ever given someone a black card?
“No. As umpires we try to avoid giving out cards whenever possible. We would always give a verbal warning before giving a yellow card to a player. A black card would rarely be given and would have to be with very good reason.”
Can anyone be an umpire, what is involved with getting started?
“Yes anyone can take the initial umpiring course, which is a short day course on the basics of umpiring and learning the scoring and rules. After completion of the course you will get some practice umpiring in local tournaments or in the Leagues & Cups events.Other assessments are involved then if one wishes to move up the umpiring ladder.”
Why is umpiring an enjoyable thing to do?
“The huge amount of friends I make is one of the main reasons I love to umpire and most of the others umpires I know would agree with me on that. With time and experience people learning to umpire can get the opportunity to travel abroad and umpire many different countries around the world. We are badly in need of umpires at the moment so people that can do the course and give any time to it would be great.”
Thanks to Carol for doing this questions and answers with us and if you would like to become and umpire or take the initial training course you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.