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Training umpires is the key; SUNDERLAND v VILLA (Oct 18).

FULLY-trained umpires in charge of all of the 369 DTZ matches is the ultimate objective of the Midland Counties Hockey Association.

The Midlands now requires for the first time that Level 1 umpires officiate at all 1st and 2nd XI League matches.

Level 1 is the minimum qualification for umpires. Over the past few years the Umpires' Associations have trained and qualified hundreds of club umpires to Level 1. Their names are entered on the National Register.

League Secretary Peter Cranswick says one of the problems is many of the new Level 1 umpires are players first and and will only umpire provided that they can play for their usual team.

So, these umpires are unable to take the whistle if they are playing away.

At home they will only umpire if they are willing to arrive 90 minutes early and umpire before playing in their own match or stay on and umpire the following game.

Alan Fothergill, secretary of the Birmingham Counties Umpires Association said: "There is no excuse for any club not having at least two qualified umpires."

Fothergill added: "Another problem faced by Midlands' Hockey Umpires' Associations is the drop out of umpires.

At any one time 20 per cent of qualified Umpire Association Panel Members are not available to officiate because of other commitments.

"Others do not wish to travel to officiate at neutral games and only make themselves available to officiate at their own clubs home matches - often as a consequence of abuse from players and other team officials."
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Title Annotation:Hockey
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 12, 1999
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