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Wanri Venter

This week Adele chats to South African Umpire, Wanri Venter. Wanri played for WP Ladies team from 2002 – 2005 and then after moving to KZN, she played for the KZN Raiders Ladies Team from 2006 – 2010. After gaining her FIH Hockey Umpires Badge in 2014, she has umpired 40 international matches to date, including the 2016 Junior World Cup in Chile, the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018, the 2019 Hockey Series Finals in Spain and the 2020 Pro League Hockey in New Zealand. She has also coached many teams including the KZN Coastals U16A Girls team in 2016 and the KZN Coastals U18A Girls team in 2018. Wanri has a wealth of experience, having seen the game from many different view points.

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Adele: When did you stop playing top women’s hockey and start focus on umpiring?

Wanri: From 2005 it was suggested that it would be a good idea to focus on umpiring rather than playing. I felt that I was still adding value to the KZN Raiders team so I only stopped playing at the end of 2010 and umpired at my first senior IPT in Bloemfontein in 2011.

Adele: Do you umpire outdoor hockey and indoor Hockey provincially and internationally?       

Wanri: In the past few years I have been focusing on outdoor hockey rather than indoor. I umpire outdoor hockey provincially and internationally and in the past I have umpired indoor hockey provincially and some international games.

Adele: How has the Covid 19 Virus effected World Hockey events that you were involved with?

Wanri: I was supposed to umpire the Pro League games between the Netherlands and New Zealand at the end of March, but this has been postponed. I was also supposed to umpire at the Asian Games mid-June, but unfortunately this has also been postponed.

Adele: With umpiring internationally one thing is you get to travel the world and visit places that you otherwise would not have visited. Tell us about some of those countries and cities you have been to.

Wanri: I have been fortunate enough to visit a few countries while umpiring Internationally. I have been to the following countries:

  • Kenya twice, for the Africa Games and World League Series Round 1
  • Santiago, Chile for the Junior World Cup
  • Gold Coast, Australia for the Commonwealth Games
  • Valencia, Spain for the World Series Finals
  • Auckland, New Zealand for the Pro League.

All of these countries have been incredible to see. The best part of these trips are meeting umpires from around the world.

Adele: How does the renumeration work with umpires? You obviously have your expenses covered? Is there money in the international game for payments to umpires at tournaments?

Wanri: On the International circuit all of our expenses are either covered by the host nation or FIH. We do receive a daily allowance for food, washing or anything else we need. We have not been paid match fees until the start of the Pro League. For the Pro League we receive a nominal fee for all the games we umpire and the games we are in the video box. This certainly is a step forward and I know all umpires are grateful for this. Many of us take unpaid leave when we travel for our umpiring commitments so this helps cover a bit of the money we lose while traveling.

Adele: How has the management of Umpires changed over the past 10 years?

Wanri: We have been extremely fortunate in South Africa that we have had an incredible team to look after the umpires. It helps having so many great umpires in South Africa. All of them are always willing to share their expertise with the youngsters. We have some really dedicated umpire’s managers locally who spend lots of time watching our umpires and giving them some great feedback. It has been great to also spend some time at tournaments with international umpire managers. There have not been significant changes the last 10 years, but rather some great consistency in the approach by umpire managers to help all umpires perform better on the field.

Adele: What is the next large international event that you are hoping to attend?

Wanri: I would just love to umpire more International hockey. Any exposure to international hockey is a real blessing for me.

Adele: What has been your career highlight so far?

Wanri: For me any International appointment is a highlight. It certainly was a real honor to be added to the Pro League panel at the end of 2019. I love travelling the world, seeing new countries and getting to know new people and catching up with some old friends from around the world.

Adele: What/who got you in to hockey?

Wanri: Nobody really got me into hockey. I just tried it out when I was in Grade 8 and loved it. I was lucky to have two great mentors at my high school who taught me a lot about hockey but more importantly about being part of a team.

I believe the person that shaped me most as a hockey player was Cari Rose-Innes. He was the 1st team coach at Somerset-West hockey club when I was in Grade 11. Even though I was good enough for the 1st team, he would not pick me for the 1st team until I learnt how to pass the ball. For a whole season I played for the 2nd team. Of course I wasn’t happy about it, but I believe it helped me become a better hockey player and more importantly, team member.

Adele: What is the best piece of advice that you can give to up and coming umpires?

Wanri: The game is not about you. You are there to serve the game and the teams. Be honest on the field, if you didn’t see something recognize it. Talk to the players in a respectful manner and try connect with the players and coaches on and off the field.

Adele: From what you have seen what are the main differences in styles of play in outdoor hockey with our South African Team and the top international teams in the world?

Wanri: I think the control of other countries in the attacking 23-meter area is better than our SA teams. When they enter their attacking circle they usually get an outcome. I also think that they rotate their players better. Players are never on the field for a long period of time. This means that they can give a 100 percent when they are on the field as they are not tired.

Adele: What are some of the latest skills that players are using on the International stage now?

Wanri: Arial/3D skills are massive on the International stage. Throwing overheads on the run has also become common. The best teams are great at moving the ball around at pace and pre-scanning.

Adele: Who is one of the finest players that you have watched a) In Indoor Hockey b) Outdoor Hockey

Wanri: I must admit I have not watched enough indoor hockey, but I love watching the Belgium men play outdoor hockey (I can’t pick one as they play so well together as a team).

Adele: Share an unknown fact about yourself.

Wanri: I love watching Grey’s Anatomy

Adele: You are also an accomplished school’s coach having coached KZN U18 and U16 teams. Describe what level qualification that you have and what motivates you to coach and the age group that you prefer coaching.

Wanri: I have a SAHA Level II accreditation. I was invited to attend a level III course but due to work commitments I could not complete the assignments. I love coaching any age-group. It is important to adapt your coaching to the level of the group you have. For me seeing someone perfect something we have been working on during a match is so fulfilling. Every time one of my player’s step onto the field it’s an opportunity to be better than the previous session/match.

Adele: You have recently umpired in a tournament where women umpired men’s matches. How do you enjoy umpiring men’s hockey and what are the main differences that you find?

Wanri: I did not umpire the men’s game, my colleague did. When I do umpire men’s hockey locally I really enjoy the pace and space they create on the field. You don’t have to be so close to the action because men play a more open game than ladies.

Adele: You have moved from Thomas More and the school system and we at Madsen Hockey Academy are happy that we are having you available to do some work with us!!  Are you looking forward to doing something different and where do you see that you can be of great value to us? 

Wanri: Madsen Academy has done some tremendous work in KZN. I am happy to just be part of the team. For me every coaching opportunity is also a learning opportunity. I am looking forward to learn from the team.