Georga, an umpire and goalie for West Hampstead Women's 2s has created the Women in Hockey Officiating Network. This is a pioneering initiative for women in hockey who officiate, whatever their level, to feel supported as part of a community after hearing about abuse towards female umpires.
As part of International Women’s Month, we spoke to Georga about her initiative.
Georga began her quest by digging into umpiring history in the London area, of which she sits on the committee. As a former club umpire coordinator Georga felt she had an understanding of female umpires within hockey in London, however even she was surprised by the results.
Last season out of the 1,100 neutral appointments in the London Area just 65, or 5%, were filled by women.
Georga’s research continued and as she began to build the network, she asked her fellow female umpires two simple questions. “What challenges did they face and what support would they like to see”.
45 female umpires took part in her survey and the results were shocking. Almost 45% of the individuals registered raised sexism, male umpires and abuse as their main challenges in umpiring.
“The disappointment I felt in the sport I am passionate about was crushing. How could somewhere I’ve had some of my best memories, also be some of the worst memories for other women?” commented Georga.
The realisation of the task at hand hit Georga after the results were in; how was she going to make a difference? Georga sought help from old friend, mentor and NPUA umpire Elysee Enness-Laporte.
“We reviewed the registration list, there were women who had undertaken international fixtures interested. Elysee’s shared excitement and validation was what I needed to see how much change the Women in Hockey Officiating Network could affect. It could be big. It could reach every corner of hockey. It could change our sport for the better” said Georga.
Georga’s plans to achieve equity and uplift women in the world began in London, she has over 50 members so far but is inviting women across England to join the network, share their expertise and help grow the Women in Hockey Officiating Network.
All women in officiating and those interested in being an ally are welcome to register for membership and the upcoming workshop on Monday 20 March, online, from 20:00 – 21:30 by signing up here.