As the Queen’s Baton for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games arrives in India for a 5-day relay within the country, Hockey India marks a 6-month countdown to the mega-event by celebrating the selection of three Officials chosen by FIH (International Hockey Federation) who will be officiating the hockey discipline Down Under in April 2018.

Davinder Bhatia has been appointed as a Judge in the sport of hockey in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games while Deepak Joshi and Durga Devi will be seen officiating as Umpires.

56-year-old Davinder Bhatia was recently promoted to FIH Technical Official Category 3 for Outdoor Hockey and is delighted that her hard work is paying off. “I have been a former hockey player with the Indian Women’s team that won the Gold Medal at the 1981 Asia Cup and 1982 Asian Games. The happiness and sense of achievement that I am feeling with my appointment as a Judge at the Commonwealth Games is unimaginable. Hockey India’s efforts and my hard work have finally paid off as I can still proudly represent my country at the highest level even at this age,” said a delighted Bhatia.

Bhatia feels that her journey with the sport of hockey is not over yet as she can still contribute and help budding players, and officials in improving the knowledge about the officiating aspect of the sport. “My appointment for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is just another motivating factor for me that inspires me to keep gaining and imparting my knowledge to the younger generation of this magnificent sport. In India, we have adequate talent and skill in us to go shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. I want to instil a belief in every Indian player and official that we can be the best by giving our best,” said Bhatia.

On the other hand, the two Indian Umpires who have been appointed for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games are also proud of how far they have come at such a young age. For 29-year-old Deepak Joshi, it is a matter of great pride that he has been able to make it to Umpiring at the coveted Commonwealth Games. He said, “I started hockey coaching in 2011 after pursuing NIS diploma course. I got the oppurtunity to work as a volunteer in the Hockey World League Round 2 in 2013 and Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2013 wherein I officiated the practice matches. Soon I realised that I can take up Umpiring as a career.

I was given the oppurtunity to Umpire for National level tournaments in 2013 and was soon recognised for my umpiring by Hockey India. Eventually, I was recognised by FIH as an International Outdoor Umpire in the first international appointment in 2015 and now getting selected for the Commonwealth Games is the result of hard work and the experience I have gained. It is the proudest moment of my life.”

The 29-year-old Umpire hails from Nainital district of Uttarakhand, who worked as a Volunteer in the 2013 Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup and officiated as an Umpire in the 2016 edition of the Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup. He says that the time is right for the aspiring Umpires and Officials in the country to focus on making a mark in the international circuit. “Hockey India Umpiring, Technical and Competitions Committee has been supporting us in improving the level of our knowledge through their development programmes and coaching. As an Umpire who has been appointed for the Commonwealth Games, I would credit Hockey India for the work that they are doing throughout the country in order to improve the Umpiring standards,” said Joshi.

33-year-old Durga Devi, who will also be an Umpire at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games said, “I started my playing career in 2003 from the SAI Hostel in Dharamshala, and represented the Himachal Pradesh state team. However, I could not get selected for the National Team and hence grew my focus on Umpiring. I have had a lot of opportunity offered by Hockey India and this has given me the right exposure to officiate at the Commonwealth Games” said Durga who changed her job recently to give her 100% to Umpiring.

“I had thought that my dream of representing my nation was over until I started officiating tournaments for Hockey India at the Sub-Junior level. After I was promoted to the Senior level by the Hockey India Umpiring, Technical and Competitions Committee, I realised that earning the respect of all international players means a lot. Through Umpiring, I can motivate the upcoming Umpires in the country, but before that I have to learn from the best when I officiate at the Commonwealth Games,” said Durga who is also keen to meet the best Umpires in the world.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games will feature both the Indian Men’s Hockey Team and the Indian Women’s Hockey Team, who will both vie for a podium finish at Australia’s Gold Coast from 4th – 15th  April, 2018.