Doran set for first international

Otago hockey umpire Sam Doran. Photo: Kiran Parbhu
Otago hockey umpire Sam Doran. Photo: Kiran Parbhu
For the first time in more than a decade, a Southern region umpire will officiate in international hockey.

Sam Doran is  to travel to Sydney to officiate at the Oceania Cup from October 11-15.

It  will  be Doran’s first experience at an international tournament and the 23-year-old  is  excited and looking forward to it.

"[It is a] massive opportunity for me," he said.

"It’s one that doesn’t come up that often, being every two years [the Oceania Cup], so it’s a really big opportunity for my first international umpiring experience."

New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea  will contest the cup, and the intercontinental hockey fives will be played there as well.

Both men and women will play at the tournament, but Doran  will umpire  just the men’s games. Usually  the cup serves  as a World Cup or Olympic qualifying event, but given both New Zealand and Australia had qualified,  there was not so much  riding  on this one, he said.

Having umpired at the past three national under-21 tournaments and also done two under-18 tournaments,  this  would be a step closer to  Doran’s  ultimate goal of going to the Olympics.

"This is really just a stepping stone to hopefully bigger and more international games . . . Ideally I would like to become an international umpire and see where it goes from there, and [to] go to some international tournaments in the end is the goal."

Doran said the speed of the game was the biggest step up when moving to a higher level, although he expected the player-management side of it to be a significant challenge in this  instance.

". . . It will be a different sort of management . . .  so the skills will be a step up with the Australian and New Zealand players there.

"Understanding that the players have a different understanding of the game at that level and [knowing] what they’re trying to do on the field is going to be a big step up for me and trying to understand that, to make the game the easiest for them and the best for them."

Alongside umpiring, Doran  is  involved in both playing and coaching hockey.

He plays  for the Taieri Geckos locally, the club’s B team, and was away with the Otago senior men’s team for the first time this week.

Playing was something he  enjoys  and he  hopes to continue to balance it with umpiring for as long as he can.He  is  also involved in coaching the Otago and John McGlashan College under-15 teams.

It was through playing that he originally got into umpiring, having been roped in to umpire a game at the end of a practice while in year 8 at  school.He took it up properly after that and has followed the pathway, beginning to take it more seriously after getting to under-18 level.

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