Mentoring younger umpires keeps Merv on game

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Mentoring younger umpires keeps Merv on game

Mervyn Bint has been umpiring hockey in Northland since 1978 but he is not slowing down any time soon.

Bint (75) is heavily involved with most aspects of umpiring within Northland Hockey, being part of the umpires committee, doing the weekly senior umpire allocations, coaching and mentoring young umpires, and even umpiring a couple of games a weekend himself.

His years of service to hockey were recognised last year when he was awarded the Sport Northland service to sport award.

Bint, from Whangarei, first picked up a whistle at the age of 35 as he was nearing the end of his playing days.

“I’d just dropped out of representative hockey and thought it was something else to do,” he says.

Over the years he has been to numerous tournaments including ten national tournaments, the New Zealand Masters National Tournaments held between 2000-2017 and multiple Trans-Tasman Masters tournaments, but he remembers a couple of games from his umpiring heydays fondly.

“I umpired India against Auckland years ago and that’s one of the more noteworthy games I did. I also did the final at the regional top six tournament,” he says.

Bint still umpires premier level hockey in Northland and keeps up to date by reading the rulebook as much as twice a year, but says being a mentor to younger umpires also helps keep him on his game.

When asked what it takes to be a good umpire, he says the ability to make decisions quickly is key.

“You’ve got to be quick thinking, it’s a reaction thing, and you’ve got to know the rules and how to apply them,” he says.

“It’s also good to build up a rapport with players. It doesn’t mean you have to be their mate but have the confidence to interact with players because it breaks the ice a bit,” he says.

He still umpires for the love of it, and to keep his mind and body sharp.

“I still enjoy it even though it is a hard part of the game to be in because you tend to get criticism thrown at you here and there, but I still think I can contribute to good games of hockey while I’m able and fit enough and while my brains still working pretty fast,” Bint says.

“It keeps me active and probably a bit younger than what I would be if I gave it up,” he says.