The TNBMHL has reached its halfway stage and the issue of umpiring is once again being raised by the participating teams. While the teams are being diplomatic in their views on the umpiring standard, the majority however are concerned on the training and knowledge as well as interpretation of rules by the umpires.Thus they hope that the Malaysian Hockey Confederation will stop providing lip service and take drastic measures to ensure the umpires get the right kind of support to officiate in a manner befitting the MHL.
While the issue had been simmering over the past few weeks, it came to a boil in the matches in Kuantan as teams aremed with video clippings were seen confroting umpires and technical officials after matches.
In a nutshell, the team officials want MHC to help the umpires improve and also look into match appointments as what had been agreed earlier in the season was not implemented.
"While we understand the umpires are human and prone to making mistakes, we hope that they can be provided the proper training and guidance to improve their ability," said Sapura team manager S. Kuhan.
"As teams we can accept that they are prone to making mistakes as they have a split second to make a decision, but things like holding on to a whistle a bit longer to allow advantagea re things that should be perfected.
"I do hope that the MHC will look into this issue as it has been raised by teams every season and no proactive action is taken."
For KLHC manager George Koshy, he is baffled as to why decisions made by consensus in the team managers meeting on March 2 where the MHC Umpires Committee was represented has not been put into practice.
"It was decided that no umpire will officiate two consecutive matches of teams but strangely that has not been implemented. We did not ask for much and hope at least what was decided ought to be implemented," said Koshy.
"I have no issues with any umpires but the reason this was requested was to ensure the umpires are not placed under any pressure as well as it is barely 48 hours that they officiate two matches of the same team."
Maybank Manager Abdul Rahim Musa agreed with the views of Kuhan and Koshy and took the issue to anothera aspect.
"While looking at the umpiring aspect we also need to look at the soft part, which is the mental state of the umpires, and MHC needs to help them develop positive approach as well as build on their confidence," said Rahim.
"Honestly we have some good umpires that are of international standard but more needs to be done to equip them both in terms of umpiring knowledge and be mentally stronger and not intimidated by big names while officiating."
UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj had also raised the issue as to why MHC were not utilising the services of Amarjit Singh who is often appointed as Umpires manager for the International Hockey Federation. Arul had raised this matter with MHC Competition Committee Chairman M. Gobinathan a day before the MHL had commenced.
"We have in our midst a person of such calibere but he is not utilised in the domestic league. I do hope that the MHC will look into this positively as it will benefit all quarters," Arul had said then and received an acknlowledgemt from Gobinathan that this matters will be addressed.
But looking at how things are progressing, the clarion call for brining in foreign umpires will once again be heard soon if MHC opts to turn a deaf ear to the teams.