Grafton Women’s Hockey president Cheryl Kinnane, left, with umpire convenor Vickie Munns.
Grafton Women’s Hockey president Cheryl Kinnane, left, with umpire convenor Vickie Munns.

Abuse drives away hockey umpires

GRAFTON Women’s Hockey Association president Cheryl Kinnane has a simple message for people caught abusing umpires – it will not be tolerated.

Mrs Kinnane, who is also the Grafton junior learner umpire convenor and a member of the umpires committee, was speaking in response to a letter published in Tuesday’s Daily Examiner.

The letter, penned by Grafton man Stephen Bell, detailed how a young girl umpiring a women’s hockey match between Avros and Royals on Saturday had abuse hurled at her throughout the match.

Mr Bell alleged a group of “yobs” on the sideline were the chief protagonists.

The young girl, a learner umpire, ended up in tears, and the incident was addressed at Grafton Women’s Hockey Association general meeting on Tuesday night.

Mrs Kinnane said such behaviour – from players or spectators alike – was unacceptable, and she put those responsible on notice.

“I can’t stand abuse from anybody, regardless of who it is to or who it is from , it annoys me no end,” Mrs Kinnane said.

“I get so frustrated. We find a lot of adults don’t umpire and the young ones who are coming along are trying to enjoy their game and do something for the association and when they get abused like that it turns them away.

“It’s very traumatic for these young people. We need those young umpires for the future.

“It’s not going to be accepted. We keep an eye out for these sorts of things.

“Ever since I started my junior program I’ve had about 91 people through ... and each year you lose two or three because of the abuse they receive. It won’t be tolerated.”

Mrs Kinnane pointed out the onus was on team captains to curb unruly behaviour, both on and off the field.

“In our rules ... the captain is responsible for the behaviour of team-mates, coach, manager and supporters, and when they can’t control that, they can then be sent from the field,” she said.

Mrs Kinnane, who began hockey umpiring in 1973, said aspiring umpires were offered substantial support.

“We try and encourage our kids to keep going and that we’re there to support them,” Mrs Kinnane said.

“There is always an adult around these fields with our young umpires.

“It’s not a massive problem (abuse), but it is a problem.

“There’s no game without your umpires, and if we continually lose our junior umpires who are coming through ... where are we going to be?

“The seniors are just not umpiring. We do ask that each club supplies two umpires for the year. That’s not much, but a lot of adults don’t want to do it anymore.”

And she put this down to “laziness”.

“A lot of them go ‘Oh I’ve done my bit years ago, why should I do it now’,” she said.

“My love is hockey and my pet is umpiring. I had a lot of support when I was doing all my training ... so part of it is giving back.

“If some of the seniors who have been in the same situation, if they could give back, that would help alleviate (the pressure on) our kids.”

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