In the Edition 6 of the HWN, we took you down the long and obscure path towards understanding the new FIH pathway in umpiring. You all read that article forwards and backwards twice, right?
It will come as no surprise to you that this article is a natural segue as we will be reviewing one of those new FIH umpiring panels on the women's side in detail: the World Cup Panel. It's entirely made of the umpires who were appointed to the Vitality Women's World Cup way back in December of 2017. When the new panels were announced in June, these WCP umpires also became part of the Pro League Panel, from which next year's sprawling and ambitious league will be staffed.
We can provide you with the best crib sheet for the #thirdteam so you can finally win that office appointment pool you lose your money in every other year. Not this time, You Amazing Fan of Umpires; this is the year you will sweep it all!
Amber Church – NZL 🇳🇿
Church began her international career in 2013 and has since earned 61 senior caps along with a couple of games in the video booth that came in 2015. Her most significant previous event was a stint in Rio at the Olympics where she was a junior member of the team. Her most recent world-level event was the HWL Semi-Finals in Antwerp where her strong performance was rewarded with a final between the Netherlands and China.
Carolina de la Fuente – ARG 🇦🇷
By far the most experienced member of the team, de la Fuente has been on the scene since 2002 and has amassed an incredible 186 senior caps and 14 matches as a video umpire since that time. Her first World Cup was way back in 2002 in Perth, and she only missed out the 2014 edition since that time. Her Olympic debut came in 2004 in Greece; she went on to the Gold Medal game in Beijing in and also was part of the #thirdteam in Rio.
Since those Olympics she’s had relatively little in the way of appointments, only seeing tournament action in the 2017 HWL Semi-Final in Johannesburg where she umpired the exciting final between USA v GER that went to a shoot-out. She’ll be looked on to mentor the younger umpires getting their first taste of top-tier tournament action, and her easy-going nature will go a long way in helping keep the team happy and relaxed.
Laurine Del Forge – BEL 🇧🇪
Del Forge's five years as an FIH already has seen her rack up 90 senior caps going into the upcoming real Four Nations Cup warm-up tournament. A surprise appointment to the Hockey World Cup in The Hague in 2014 in only her 5th international tournament, del Forge followed that up with becoming (unofficially) the youngest umpire ever to be appointed to a Gold medal game in the 2016 Rio Olympics and was awarded FIH Umpire of the Year.
She has been relatively quiet since then with umpiring, although she led Belgium to gold at the EuroHockey Indoor Championship II as the tournament’s leading goal-scorer. She’ll warm up for the HWC at the real Four Nations Cup along with Church and Michelle Meister (below), and whether by design or accident can be held up as part of the FIH's #equallyamazing initiative by taking up the helm of two Great Britain vs Belgium men’s tests in June.
Maggie Giddens – USA 🇺🇸
A Golden Whistle holder with 105 caps, Giddens makes her World Cup debut in London. Her last major tournament showed her in
Kelly Hudson – NZL 🇳🇿
Hudson has an extensive resumé at 115 senior caps including three Champions Trophies, Olympic appearances in London 2012 and Rio 2016, and a previous World Cup in 2010 in Rosario. She umpired the final of the 2016 Champions trophy and is a prolific video umpire having been a part of 35 matches from the booth. Expect her to play a vital role in video referrals in London.
Michelle Joubert – RSA 🇿🇦
2015 FIH Umpire of the Year Joubert's CV is so full of finals it's almost easier to skip the list (but we won't). Those 1st-place matches include those at the 2017 HWL Final Auckland, the 2017 HWL Semi-Final Johannesburg, the 2016 Champions Trophy, the gold medal game at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2015 HWL Final Rosario, the 2014 Hockey World Cup at The Hague and the 2014 Hockey Junior World Cup.
In fact, you have to go back to the London Olympics to find a world-level event in which Joubert *didn’t* do the final. However, her most recent tournament is back in Nov. 2017 at the HWL Final in Auckland, which may be in part due to South Africa's position in the global scene (see Annelize Rostron, below).
Alison Keogh – IRL ☘️
Perhaps most famous for her on-pitch death stare, Keough joins the #thirdteam in London on the junior side of the ledger with 49 caps to her name. Her world-level experience includes a semi-final tilt at the HWL Final in Auckland 2017 and the Junior World Cup in 2016 in Chile. Look for this dark horse to pull out some big performances and fool the bookies.
Xiaoying Liu – CHN“Cindy” Liu (and if you didn't expect “Hoo” to follow, you are no Dr Seuss fan) debuts in the top tier with this Hockey World Cup appointment. Holding 60 senior caps to date including selections to a couple of HWL Semi-Final events, she recently had her first VU experience at the Asian Champions Trophy. She warmed up at the 4-Nations Invitational in Breda last month and continues to show significant improvement in her English skills, which is crucial for moving into a senior role at these tournaments in the future.
Ayanna McClean – TTO 🇹🇹
The pride of the Carribean, McClean is a veteran of two HWL Semi-finals and the 2015 HWL Final. Her big breakthrough came at her second Commonwealth Games where she umpired both a semi-final and the final on the Gold Coast. Along with her 66 senior caps she has 28 in the video booth, bringing experience and keen insight to that role. As a “natural neutral”, McClean will have no conflicts keeping her out of match assignments, making her a valuable addition to the crew.
Michelle Meister – GER 🇩🇪
One of the few umpires with almost as many indoor caps (41) as outdoor (64), Meister brings a comprehensive tournament background to the table along with some top appointments like the 2016 Rio Olympics, the final of the 2016 Junior World Cup and the 2017 EuroHockey Championship last August, her most recent major outdoor tournament. Meister will benefit from the real Four Nations Cup as a warmup with Church and de la Forge.
Aleisha Neumann – AUS 🇦🇺
Neumann began as an international umpire only 4 years ago and has accumulated 35 caps and 3 matches as the video umpire. Her first world-level appointment was the 2016 Junior World Cup where she was appointed to a semi-final. She went on to the bronze at the HWL Semi-Final in Johannesburg and a semi-final and the bronze at the Commonwealth Games two months ago.
Irene Presenqui – ARG 🇦🇷
Presenqui’s stats are oddly out of whack in the FIH database, as it's unlikely any umpire would make their international debut at the World Cup (as it reads in the system). She has at least two Junior World Cups to her credit (2009 & 2013), and umpired the 2012 London Olympics and returned in 2016 to Rio where she did the bronze medal game.
Since the HWL Semi-Finals in Antwerp where she had a semi-final, she’s had only a couple of test matches in the intervening year. However, she has access to the strong domestic competition in Argentina and combined with her sports psychology background, she will be fully prepared for London.
Annelize Rostron – RSA 🇿🇦
Rostron's world-level stats include a semi-final appearance at the Junior World Cup in 2013 and the bronze medal game at the 2014 Champions Trophy. She reached the 68-cap mark at the HWL Semi-Final in Antwerp last year on another bronze medal game. Combining the South Africa women's program's geographical isolation and financial constraints, the overall lack of opportunities for test matches and national appointments make it harder for this new mum (along with her countrywoman Joubert) to squeeze in match preparation.
Sara Wilson – SCO 🏴
The reigning FIH Umpire of the Year comes into this World Cup as a veteran at the top of her game, having taken charge of her first major final back in 2014 at the Champions Trophy and not looking back since.
With 86 caps (some lost in the post) and 18 in the shed, including that incredible final of the Indoor World Cup this past February, Wilson is no stranger to big games. After taking charge of the bronze medal game at the Rio Olympics and a semi-final at the 2016 Junior World Cup, she's racked up finals at the 2017 EuroHockey Championships, the 2017 HWL Final in Auckland, and most recently the gold medal match of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Emi Yamada – JPN 🇯🇵
Like del Forge, Yamada has
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(This article appeared in the Hockey World News Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup Edition, July 2018)