With the current Basic Umpires Course for table tennis heading into its second day at the National Table Tennis Centre with 19 participants one of our local experienced umpires spoke of her experiences and achievements as a table Tennis Umpires.
Fifty two year old school teacher, Pushpa Wati, is one of a few female National table tennis umpires in the Oceania region. As she said “this is an achievement worth being proud of. And being the only female Indian National table tennis umpire in the country is indeed a feather in the cap”.
Pushpa started her interest in table tennis as a mother who brought her son Christopher Lal to table tennis as an activity out of school for physical and mental well-being in 2005. He excelled in studies and has represented Fiji in many overseas tournaments.
Sitting on the sidelines and getting bored was not very interesting, so she took up a racket and ball and started playing with whoever was available to play with. A few years later, she was competing in local competitions and giving younger players a tough competition.
Realising that she was not really cut out for competitive play, she took the ITTF PTT Level 1 coaching course in Table Tennis. With her growing interest in the sport, she took the Basic Umpires Course in 2010 and the National Umpires course in 2012.
Having passed both courses, she has been able to officiate around Oceania since then and has officiated at a number of major tournaments overseas and locally.This included the World Veterans Championship in Auckland in 2013 with over 3000 players from all over the world competing in age groups from Over 40 to Over 80s , 2015 Pacific Games in PNG and well major junior and para competitions in Australia . She was given some very important matches to umpires especially the semi finals and finals in some of these events where umpires knowledge of the rules and concentration needs to be at the highest level.Umpires are assessed regularly on how they umpire a match, so one needs to be alert
Her message to others is that table tennis does not mean that one has to be a good player. There is huge demand for coaches, umpires, tournament controllers and managers. Furthermore, the sport provides an equal opportunity for all ages and genders. Especially females tend to often be tied down with so many drawbacks that can be removed if they put a mind to it. Get out of work, home and routine. Have some fun, exercise and meet other people.
Table tennis opens the door to many opportunities to people.
The current umpires course funded by Olympic Solidarity has attracted 10 people with disabilities including 5 on wheelchair.The experiences of Pushpa will certainly be a motivating factor for some of these aspiring umpires
Fiji Table Tennis President, Anthony Ho commented ” I am so happy with the turnout and interest from the participants.With more umpires, Fiji can have more competitions and with better umpires who know the rules, players need to know the rules in local competitions so that when they attend major competitions overseas as they do not lose matches from poor service techniques, illegal rubbers, poor condition of rackets/rubbers checked during racket control before matches, wrong uniforms, poor selection of order of matches in teams events and many more important rules that directly impact the results of a game or match.”