In the lead up to the International Women’s Day 2023 we are speaking with women in hockey, who are inspiring passionate fans around the world, through their contributions to hockey. In today’s interview, we speak with Amber Church of New Zealand. 

Amber Church is one of the best umpires in the international hockey circuit and the winner of the FIH Umpire of the Year 2021-22 (female category). Her career as an international hockey umpire began well over a decade ago, having officiated her first international match all the way back in 2010 and she figures amongst the most experienced umpires in the world. She completed a century of appearances as an umpire in international matches on 15th May 2022 and was awarded the golden whistle, for this terrific achievement.

Amber was an appointed official for the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup Spain and Netherlands 2022 and also made it to her first ever Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022. She was a standout performer at both the events being justifiably appointed to officiate the Finals match at the Women’s World Cup as well as the Women’s finals of the Commonwealth Games, showcasing that she is absolutely at the top of her field.

Amber’s path to becoming an international hockey umpire is unique and began at a young age as a hockey player in the under-15 and under-18 levels. She decided to stay connected to the sport right after her playing days in the under-18 level, through umpiring, rising up the ranks in New Zealand before getting her international badge in 2010 in Brazil. 

Amber’s journey to becoming an international hockey umpire hasn’t been the easiest. Coming from a small town in New Zealand, she received constant advice about having to move to bigger cities if she wanted to make it to make a career in the upper echelons of sport or any other profession. But that did not align with her belief and she chose to chart her own path and with plenty of hard work along with the help of her family and her community she made it to the highest levels of umpiring in hockey. Amber credits her family and her community, and believes any success she has equally belongs to them, for their belief in her from the very beginning. 

Watch the full interview below, as Amber discusses all the opportunities she has had from traveling around the world as a hockey umpire, her unique approach to umpiring the game and plenty more.