He also spoke about the situation of officials in India.

A major facet of any sport that is rarely touched upon is the match officials, who, just like the athletes, spend years of hard work and consistent performances to get to the highest level. With Hockey India’s unwavering focus over the past decade in developing a proper structure for the officials, many people from across the country have had the chance to officiate in some of the biggest hockey matches in the world. One such individual is Mumbai’s Javed Shaikh.

He was recently awarded the Hockey India Best Umpire Manager/Umpire 2019-2020 award at the 10th Hockey India Congress for his outstanding efforts in officiating. Javed Shaikh has been in hockey officiating for the past two decades.

He began his career as an umpire in 2000 at a local tournament in Mumbai, and in 2002, he was called up as a national umpire, which was followed by an opportunity at the 2003 Under-21 Invitational Cup in Poland where he served as an international umpire for the first time.

He remarked, “I am elated to have been awarded for my work in the country and in world hockey. I would like to thank Hockey India for their continued support and for recognising my work on the field of play.”

During the course of his career, Javed Shaikh has umpired at major events such as Commonwealth Games, Asian Games as well as the 2014 Men’s World Cup in Hague and at the 2018 Odisha Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar and was also called up as an umpire during the 2016 Rio Olympics. His commitment to umpiring and the desire to keep improving has meant he now serves as an International/FIH – Olympics Games panel umpire.

He stated, “Officiating and umpiring are one of the hardest roles you can play in sport. You are always surrounded by individuals on the pitch who want to do their best for their respective teams, but what people often don’t recognise is the fact that we also want to do our best, and always aim for flawless and error-less decision-making under severe pressure.”

“I think Hockey India has done an exemplary job when it comes to providing people like me the platform to deliver. They have been encouraging individuals across the country to come forward and participate in umpiring.”

“Back when I started umpiring, there would only be a couple of Indian umpires at international tournaments, but now due to a proper structure that is in place, there are more than 15 people from India in the international panel, which includes technical officials, umpires and umpire managers. In our country, we have been able to create more competition, and with people getting more chances to officiate in international tournaments, there has been immense exposure for all of us,” Shaikh added.

Commenting on another important aspect that is not highlighted much across the sport, Shaikh said his comrades have to have a special focus on their fitness levels as well.

“With hockey being such a fast-paced sport, we as officials, also cover a lot of ground, and to do that, we have to be at our best fitness-wise. Again, credit to Hockey India, we have various training programmes to stay sharp and to maintain our fitness levels. Not many people are aware, but we also have our target Yo-Yo scores, which prove to be a good test to monitor our fitness,” he signed off.