The International Hockey Federation (FIH) can reveal that Amber Church of New Zealand and Coen Van Bunge of Netherlands have been named the FIH Umpires of the year 2021-22, in the female and male categories respectively, by the FIH Officials Committee.
Amber Church has been a prolific umpire at the international level of hockey for well over a decade now having officiated her first international match all the way back in 2009 and is widely regarded as one of the best umpires in the world. She has completed a century of appearances as an umpire in international matches, with her 100th appearance coming on 15th May 2022 in a test match between Australia and New Zealand women’s teams.
Throughout the 2021-22 hockey season, Amber maintained peak fitness and performance levels, despite a long period away from international hockey due to the COVID situation in New Zealand, and picked up right where she had left off, after an impressive performance in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Amber is highly regarded not just by her peers but also by the players that she officiates and was also felicitated as the Umpire of the Year by Hockey New Zealand for the year 2021; wherein her efforts to provide off-field support to other umpires, in helping them grow the skills, was specifically noted as well.
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 and a deserved winner of the FIH Umpire of the Year 2021-22 (female).
There is hardly a more recognisable face among international hockey umpires than that of Coen Van Bunge. His standing as one of the best umpires of all time is quite well established at this point with over 100 international appearances as an on-field umpire and another 75+ appearances as a video umpire in an international career that is in its 15th year!
But an even greater contribution by Coen has been his role as an FIH educator, that he has taken up since April 2020. His commitment to helping grow the umpiring talent pool at various levels of hockey has been a great service to the Hockey community and its impact will be felt throughout the game for many years to come.
Coen was once again a top performing umpire in the FIH Hockey Pro League, and he was also appointed as one of the umpires for the Men’s Indoor Asia Cup in Bangkok in August, where he umpired the very close Final. Here too he conducted multiple workshops to the benefit of the Asian umpires at the tournament.
During the Women’s World Cup in Amstelveen, Coen also held a number of umpiring workshops and coaching sessions for young fans, inspiring the next generation of umpires in reaching for their Olympic ambitions.