After the challenges of the last 18 months, Australian international referee Carla Hoorweg was excited but also challenged to find herself out of Aussie lockdown but thrown into hotel lockdown in Thailand with exemptions to enter an environment of booming music and loud crowds and some volleyball surrounding her.
Hoorweg was one of the referees appointed by the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) to officiate at the recent Asian Men’s Senior Volleyball Championship, held in Chiba and Funabashi, Japan from September 12-19, 2021.
“Japan’s matches were sellouts, albeit at 50% capacity due to the social distancing requirements, but it was enough to create an atmosphere and feel almost like ‘back to normal’,” Hoorweg said.
The expert referee was excited at the opportunity to attend her first senior men’s event after becoming an international referee in 2008. In 2018 Hoorweg had attended the Men’s Club Championship in Myanmar and was now looking forward with trepidation to the match level and intensity of the Men’s Asian Championship.
“The environment is always the challenge. It is very different to go from refereeing in a gym with a duty team to the full international court environment with TV, Taraflex flooring, 4 line judges, floor moppers, ball retrievers, professional second referee and scorers, headsets, tablets, eScore and of course the video challenge system,” Hoorweg said.
Despite the pressure of the event, by the end of the first set of her opening match Hoorweg already felt comfortable as usual in her role.
With a number of international tournaments under her belt including the Tokyo 2020 Asian Women Qualification Tournament held in Thailand in January last year, Hoorweg in time has solidified her mental approach and is now able to change focus quickly, adapting to the requirements of an international tournament and always remaining calm under pressure.
“It was easy to slip back into refereeing on the international stage and I was a little surprised at this,” Hoorweg confessed.
“I was lucky to be based in Canberra since October last year as in 2021 we got to run most of our state league season before the lockdown, so I got a few chances to be first and second referee.
“This meant I didn’t feel too out of practice with the speed of the ball at Asian Champs. Still, being in an environment like that was more tiring than I expected, so mental rest and recovery were quite important after the matches,” she said.
Travelling internationally in the current environment also created some apprehension and Hoorweg is grateful for the support received from Volleyball Australia before and during her stay in Japan.
“It has certainly been the most challenging travel experience that I’ve had and I do especially want to thank the team at Volleyball Australia for making all the necessary arrangements,” she said.
“This competition was a little different as we were in isolation in our hotels rooms when not officiating, so we didn’t get the usual chances to spend time with [other international colleagues].
“We all come from very different backgrounds, cultures and speak different languages at home, but we have a shared experience that really allows you to connect in a way that’s different to your normal friends and family.”
“It’s the volleyball family – which is already so strong in terms of local and Australian leagues, but that extends globally and you really feel it amongst officials at these competitions,” she said.
After the Asian Championships, Hoorweg had originally been appointed to referee at the FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria, before ongoing travel restrictions prevented her from extending her international officiating schedule.
With major competitions in 2022 still facing significant uncertainty, Hoorweg will now focus on refining her skills and working on techniques in the local and Australian leagues, as they come back online after the lock down. She also looks forward to sharing her expertise and the lessons learnt at her latest event with the officiating community in Australia.
“We will also have new rules come into effect from 2022,” Hoorweg said, “so there will be some time digesting these and some briefings for the teams and local competitions.
“There is always more to work on to get better and more comfortable with your officiating – I think when you feel there isn’t anything else to work on then that’s the time to retire,” she said.
Together with Volleyball Australia, Carla will be hosting a webinar about Travelling on the FIVB Referee Pathway
When: Thursday, November 18
Time: 7.30pm – 8:30pm AEDT
Who: All Referees
Zoom Details : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87381934090?pwd=dTQ3TU85VUhicmZwWVlCOVdjTkxWZz09
Meeting ID: 873 8193 4090
Related links of AVC
AVC Website: click www.asianvolleyball.net
AVC Facebook: click www.Facebook.com/AsianVolleyballConfederation
AVC Twitter: click: www.twitter.com/AsianVolleyball
AVC Instagram: click: https://www.instagram.com/avcvolley/?hl=en
AVC Youtube: click: Asian Volleyball Confederation
AVC WeChat: Asian Volleyball Confederation