October is usually time for EHL Round 1 and this year for the second time it took place in Barcelona, at the Olympic venue. This wasn’t my first time at an EHL event (I had been in Eindhoven for final 4 last year with my UDP Group 7) but during this weekend, I had to do something more than take notes of what the colleagues were doing on the pitch.
I received my appointment in July while I was at an U16 EC and I thought just “wow!” since that moment, millions of thoughts came into my mind, and the excitement has grown week by week, till the day of my debut!
After landing in Barcelona my heart began to beat faster: I realized I was in Spain to blow EHL matches with open microphones, live streaming and I was going to enjoy an experience with some of the best umpires in Europe! After the meeting with the UM’s (where I’ve received the fantastic t-shirt with my name printed on it!) I received my first EHL appointment: East Grinstead vs Dinamo Stroitel with David Sweetman, a former member of UDP.
After an almost sleepless night, match day came and my nervousness increased to the point I did not say a word till the start of the game. By the way, once I was on the pitch everything looked spectacular: the speaker announced each team’s lineup and my name, cameras were everywhere and fans started to cheer for their teams.
The game started and I felt more comfortable on the pitch, at the end it was just a hockey match and I tried to repeat these words for hundred times to keep concentration, then the first video umpire call arrived: I worried I had made a wrong call, and indeed I had. Video umpire Colin Hutchison confirmed this and I had to reverse my decision; luckily I was able to rally once again and the game ran smoothly to the end.
So the first game was done, I umpired alongside a Grade One umpire and at the end of the day I was absolutely more relaxed, especially after the debriefing with Umpire Managers Tom Goode and Xavi Adell who were happy at what happened on the pitch.
The second day I reserved two matches in the evening but whoever thinks that reserving is boring is absolutely wrong, especially if it happens in a match like EG-Kampong! Top players were on the pitch and the game was close: Ben and Geoffrey had to speak a lot to the players to calm them down, so I had a live lesson about in management.
During the evening I met members of UDP Group 6 who were in Barcelona for their graduation and Group 8 with mentors Juanma, Stella Bartlema (Group 8), Jean Duncan (Group 5) and Louise Knipe (Group 6).
The match was Royal Daring vs Racing Club de France and both teams were playing for promotion: lot of fans came from France and Belgium and the atmosphere was incredible.
So the first EHL experience has gone and taught me a lot and gave me an opportunity to learn from some fantastic umpires.
Pietro Galligani (UDP Group 7)