KUALA LUMPUR: There is no such thing as a perfect hockey umpire — everyone makes a mistake.
This is what veteran Malaysian umpire Amarjit Singh had to say when asked about video referrals, and the feeling he gets when he is proven wrong by a camera.
Amarjit, the current Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Umpires Chairman, has seen it all from umpiring schools hockey, Champions Trophy right up to Olympics and World Cups.
"No umpire is perfect, as all of us make mistakes and that's why we need a camera to 'look' from different angles when an important decision needs to be made in the semi-circle," sais Amarjit.
The man has seen action at the Utrecht (1998), Kuala Lumpur (2002), Moenchengladbach (2006) and New Delhi (2010) World Cups. He also umpired at the Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) Olympics.
When asked about the feeling of being wrong time and again in a single match, Amarjit said: "Sometimes the players get it right many times during a match and it does affect the umpire. But we are 'programmed' to carry on and not let it bother us too much.
"Because in the end, we are happy when a right decision is made during the run of play, or by referring to videos."
Amarjit feels that it’s easier for the public, with a drink in hand and popcorn in the other, to have a bird's eye view from the stands while the umpire is down on the field, and at times blocked by other players and has to make the right decision in a split second.
"The public have a better view and they are also under no pressure and the many eyes at the stadium have views from many angles to come to a consensus.
"For us, many a time our view is blocked by other players and an intelligent decision has to be made in the blink of an eye.
"If there is video referral, the umpire does not have to wait for a player to call for it. He can also call for referral when his view is blocked."
What is Amarjit's feeling about referrals being introduced at the knock-out stages like in the recent Malaysia Hockey League?
"If budget permits, video referrals should be for all matches and not only during the quarters or semi-finals stage.
"Because, crucial mistakes can be made in the early stages, propelling the wrong team's entry into the knockout stage. To be fair to all teams, referrals must start from day one."
No umpire is perfect, except the third eye of the referral.
NOTE: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) introduced video referrals as a trial at the men's Champions Trophy in Melbourne, Australia in 2009.
The aim was to provide a way of reducing umpiring errors that may have a major impact on the result of a match. The system was quickly approved and used in the World Cup in Delhi in 2010, where Amarjit was an umpire.