|SPORTS & WELLNESS|
Rise of a referee
as a choice
bugs from pets!
Rise of a
He has already been at the Olympics, twice (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) to be specific. With three World Cups and six Champions Trophy umpiring assignments also under his belt, Indiaís only umpire on the International Hockey Federation (FIH)ís elite panel for the past five years, Satinder Sharma has indisputably been the face of Indian Hockey worldwide and needs little introduction.
In a set-up where even players, leave alone coaches, find it hard to establish their identities, he has successfully held high the Tricolour and was recently awarded the Golden Whistle Award by the FIH. Sharma became the 29th male to have his name included on the coveted list and the solo Indian to get the honour. The award is the highest in the category conferred by the international body. Currently officiating in the Commonwealth Games at Delhi, the Deputy Manager with the SBI in Chandigarh, shares his thoughts about umpiring standards, hockeyís dissent, officiating in the India-Pakistan war and much more.
How did you take up umpiring as a profession?
To be associated with sports professionally was something I always dreamt of. During my playing days, I realised the importance of the knowledge of rules to the minutest detail in order to evolve as a successful sportsman. It was S. N. Vohra, my mentor, who initiated me into umpiring and I decided to take it up as a profession.
How has the journey been till now?
Oh, it has been an enriching experience, the last 10 years. I started my international umpiring career in Sydney in 2000, when the FIH called me for duty in a four-nation tournament. Since then, I have officiated in 130 matches played in various tournaments like the Olympics, World Cups and Champions Trophies.
How is it like to officiate in the Olympics?
By far, those rank as the most special days of my career. The experience of being a part of the Olympics at Athens-2004 is etched permanently in my memory. It just cannot be described in words. You simply have to be there to actually believe it.
Receiving the highest umpiring award by the FIH must have been special, too?
It is very satisfying to be recognised and included among the very best in the business. The Golden Whistle Award is presented by the FIH to those who have officiated in 100 or more matches. Becoming the 29the male overall and the first Indian on the list will stay as a source of inspiration for me always.
Any recognition from the Indian Hockey Federation?
Not at all. There has not been enough support from the federation and it is sad that till date we do not recognise umpiring as a vital and specialised activity, which goes a long way in producing better players. Our players suffer while playing with European countries because the standard of umpiring there at the junior level is very high as compared to us. Better umpires make better players.
What can be done to rectify the situation?
We have the talent. All we need is a well-devised plan and a nurturing system which encourages and recognises umpires to do their best. The IHF has the resources and we can certainly do that.
What about Indiaís chances in the CWG?
The competition is very stiff. Eight of the top world-class teams which take part in the world cup are a part of the Games. So, there canít be any let-up as far as the intensity in the competition is concerned. Australia will be aiming to keep the gold.
How different is an Indo-Pak encounter from any other one?
Well, honestly, it is not just another match for any umpire. The atmosphere is so charged both on and off the field that there is a risk of being swayed by emotion. But our job is to focus on the game and thatís what we are trained to do.
as a choice
A man doesnít get to choose the circumstances of his life. What he does get to choose though, is the way he responds to them. For former India all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar, the circumstances have been varied, but the grit has never wavered. He has seen the high of being a genuine all-rounder for the country to the low of obscurity after the match-fixing saga. But the man has never given up, never. And even today, the moment he walks on to the field, albeit as a coach/mentor, he comes alive with expressions and emotions.
You have been kept away from the game for long. But it doesnít really look like you have stayed away at all. The passion for the game is still there.
Well, it has been long. A lot has changed, on the field and off it, too. But I still love the sport as I always did. I have tried to do my bit by returning to the field as a coach, as a mentor to the kids who have no way to look when the going gets tough. I did my bit during the stints with Delhi and Rajasthan, but I need a little more time and support to show the authorities what I can really do for these kids.
Does this mean you are seriously considering to take up coaching as a profession?
Why not? To be very honest, the way a kid starts his cricketing journey in India, and when you realise the ultimate dream of making it to the national team, staying away from the action, the intensity is just impossible. There is a need, a craving to be sitting among the boys, talking the talk and contributing to the teamís cause all the time. I feel I can do it, and am just waiting for someone to believe in my conviction.
You have not really had a great experience in trusting people. Last time you did, it was during the match-fixing controversy. It backfired in a big way.
Yes, I know. But still, whatever happened, I donít wish to get into the right and wrong of it. People know the truth, their conscience does. All I know is that I am still glad that I did it. It ensured that at least for the next 8-10 years, we got completely clean cricket.
There is a cloud over cricket again. Spot-fixing in the England-Pakistan series has raised serious concerns. What is the reason that teams from the subcontinent are always under the scanner?
Well, the bookies are mostly from this region. In fact, Asia is the hub of match-fixing. While earlier, it was purely for money, now there seems to be a bigger nexus forming. But since the players are paid so well, so lavishly, they should not be doing it for money. The boards have to take corrective action and set the right examples. The gameís future is at stake if nothing gets done.
Talking about your future plans, do you have any offers in hand?
Well, I canít reveal anything, but yes I do. I am thinking very positively about them and hopefully I will be back on the field soon. I know there are people out there who want me, and that gives me the hope that I may get to coach a Ranji team.
The most hackney`E9d question over the past almost two decades has been why India has not produced a genuine all-rounder. What is your take on it?
Well, you donít just come up with all-rounders. They have to be nurtured and looked after. I remember when I came into the team, it was Sunil Gavaskar who believed in me and made me open the innings. That laid the foundation for me to improve and grow as an all-rounder. I worked very hard on my batting and it paid rich dividends.
Your comments about the India-Australia series.
The real battle has been among the bowlers. Seriously, we have to do better in terms of bowling bench strength.
And how do you think that can happen?
Well, for starters, the NCA should get better people. Players or coaches, who have the track record of having seen the top level, so that they can prepare the kids for a life in the tough lane. Then, the BCCI should be more proactive in letting the coaches know what exactly is wanted by it. You canít just rely on two or three former players and hope that they keep giving the right advice all the time. You need freshness, and you need it all the time. You have to reinvent yourself to avoid getting complacent.
bugs from pets!
We share many things with our pets, but certainly disease should not be one of them. Zoonoses (the diseases shared by man and animals) can pose a serious threat to human being having unprotected pets and may put not only children, pregnant females and adults but also veterinarians and immuno-compromised individuals at greater risk.
Owing to the wide publicity about emerging diseases like swine flu, bird flu, mad cow disease and many others, veterinarians frequently receive queries from people about potential zoonotic diseases transmitted from dogs, cats and other animals. Of the newly emerging and remerging infectious diseases, over 75 per cent are of zoonotic origin.
As per census 2002, India has approximately 25 million dogs, with an estimated dog: man ratio of 1:36, while a survey in 2003 reported that about 17 per cent households have a pet/domesticated dog. Societal change has driven the growth in the pet population, which is increasing by approximately 26 per cent per year. Similarly, an increasing number of single executives and women and single-child families or parents whose children have settled abroad are keeping pets.
When uncared pets come in contact with people, they may transmit disease and, significantly, interfere with the relationship between people and their pets if not treated on time.
Round worms from dogs and cats can be transmitted to persons who come in contact with these pets. The growing popularity of pets has resulted in widespread contamination of the environment (soil) with hookworm and ascarid infective larvae and eggs. The principal risk factors for human disease include the presence of a dog in the house, dirt-eating habit (pica) of children. Childrenís play habits and their attraction to pets, especially dogs, put them at a higher risk than the adults.
The most common scene is of elders and children moving barefoot in the garden or public parks, where dogs often defecate. The larvae penetrate the skin. This needs to be avoided at all costs.
Gardeners and sunbathers are also most likely to suffer from skin manifestations. Hookworm eggs can develop into infective larvae in the soil as little in five days and ascarid eggs within two weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity.
Most cases of human ascarid and hookworm infections can be prevented by practicing good personal hygiene, regular deworming of pets and keeping the children away from the areas that may be contaminated with pet faeces. The regular deworming, vaccination and other veterinary care of pets are of utmost importance.
Ingestion of cat feces, raw meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables may transmit`A0toxoplasmosis to man.`A0The populations at risk are pregnant females and the person undergoing immunosuppressive therapy.
Most pet owners are simply unaware of or not educated about the need to protect their pets and families from these parasites. There is an urgent need to establish pet education and counselling centers in the universities and health departments. Further, there is need for certain courses for educating pet owners about health management, behaviour, nutrition, psychology and rearing of pets.
Every year, millions of dogs and cats are treated for internal and external parasitic infestations in the metropolitan cities of India. More than 16,000 cases of dogs are usually registered annually for treatment and diagnostic purposes in the veterinary clinics at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, a premier veterinary institute of northern India. It is also usually necessary to have an examination to determine which kind of worm is involved so that appropriate medication can be prescribed.
It has been well said that "An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure."