Saturday, 26 May, 2007

Eyeing for international fame

Photo: Anand Chaini

B D Narayankar

PUNE: He is an epitome of great tranquility. But he has a fire razing under his belly -- to officiate in an international hockey tournament. But time is running out for him. He has just three years to fulfil his ambition which no other national hockey umpire from the city has achieved.

Come August and Sridharan Thamba will travel to Chennai to officiate in the U-21 National Hockey Championship.

He, so far, has officiated in four major national level tournaments like Junior National Hockey Championship at Jabalpur in 2004, U-21 Asia Cup Zonal matches at Mumbai in 2005, All India Gold Cup at Nanded in 2006 and U-18 National Hockey Tournament in 2007.

People think that like in cricket, hockey umpires also get paid well. Sometimes I have to spend my own money to be a little more comfortable while traveling. Photo by Anand Chaini
“Otherwise, I am very happy with whatever the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Mahatarshtra Hockey Federation (MHA) gives me as allowance for my food and accommodation,” he said.

The MHA umpire has had to tread an arduous journey to be an acclaimed national hockey umpire. With his unemotional style of umpiring, even even the worst behaved players rarely provoke him.

“Cards, sometimes, are solution to problems on the field. The situation is controlled instantly. If the teams are plaint, the whistle is the best weapon to keep their tempers cool. I, however, believe that cards can solve the biggest of problems,” Sridharan argued.

There are times when umpiring becomes a little difficult. There is a world of difference between officiating local and national matches. “It is difficult to handle the situation in local matches as many of the players and my officiating partners will not be knowing the finer rules of umpiring. I need to explain the reason for giving decisions,” he said.

Knowing that an umpire’s job is thankless, why did you take it up? “First and foremost, I want word ‘international’ tagged to my name. I aspired to be an international hockey player, but could only play for my state. I also want to achieve something which no other national umpire from the city has achieved. With the blessings of Dhanraj Pillay, Ramesh Pillay and Victor Ellis of

MHA, I fancy my chances. Secondly, for ‘paapi pet ka sawal hain’” Sridharan said. Though he had a family engrossed in football and hockey, he preferred the latter for Krishnan was his Godfather-uncle. “I owe my life to my uncle for he is the reason for me to achieve what I have achieved today. I cannot ever forget Victor Ellis,” he said.

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