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Adam Rickard 

When Cornish bowler Adam Rickard listened to a presentation by an international umpire back in 2016, he felt inspired to become involved and started to look into the requirements of the role.

He was soon undertaking a 100-question theory exam, followed by a Marker's Awareness Course before completing his practical qualifying assessment the following year.

He said: "My pure love of bowls inspired me to become an official and I really enjoyed learning about marking and measuring.
"I also suffer with an illness called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome which I've had since I was 14. It's a debilitating sensation resulting in severe pain which I get in my head and around the face and ears. Umpiring/marking allows me to focus and almost block the pain out that I can't do with anything else.

"I love that I can be involved with various levels of players from club to national finalists and I like sharing the story of how I became an umpire at such a young age as it normally turns a head (or two).
"Unfortunately, my age has been the greatest challenge I've faced and in the beginning I received quite a lot of negative remarks for doing it including a county official who told me I'd never officiate at a high level.
"This wasn't going to stop me however, it just gave me more determination to prove everyone wrong which I can confidently say I have!"

During his training, Adam leaned on Phil King who became his role model and mentor: "If it wasn't for him I possibly wouldn't have even become an umpire!
"He taught me and enabled me to pass my original exams and ever since qualifying I've been able to work with him and now have become his EBUA county coordinator.
"Since umpiring further afield I've been able to learn off others and one person who also has helped a lot on and off the green is Dan Bluett who is a remarkable umpire."

Adam says that gaining experience at events around the UK such as the Learning Disability Indoor Bowls International Series and most recently the Bowls England National Finals 2023 has given him more confidence.
"I loved officiating at Leamington," Adam said, "It was brilliant.
"The English Bowling Umpires Association organise it well, so everyone knows what and where they need to be. I marked the under 25 Singles Final and the livestreaming was a unique experience, very fun to do but there's so much more to it than just being "the marker" such as crowd management, player management and the odd bit of commentary.
"A lot of people were stopping me to ask about umpiring and my story behind it so hopefully it encourages someone to take it up!"
Adam Rickard measuring
So how do you become an umpire?

Adam said: "Firstly, I'd start with talking to your county EBUA coordinator as they'll help with mentorship and guidance on applying. Once you've submitted your application you will receive a study manual, copy of the laws and a DVD that outlines all our measuring and marking procedures and other important aspects of our role as officials. Using the laws, study manual and DVD; you will then be sent 100 theory-based questions, which are remotely marked. If successful, you can apply for a workshop in order to do your practical assessment.

"There are various progression routes depending on what your personal aspirations are and I was delighted to be selected as a national examiner for future umpires. I'd love to one day gain my international grade and my International Technical Official qualification that would allow me to officiate at Commonwealth Games and similar events."

Adam started bowling at the age of 11, after being introduced to a Friday night league by his grandfather. He plays for Carnmoggas IBC and Stenalees BC.

He lists his top successes as qualifying for Leamington in the under 25 singles in 2016 and then winning the county under 25 singles title.

The electrician believes a good umpire is "an approachable person, calm under pressure, a team player and someone who enjoys bowls first and foremost."
He added: "A huge aspect of umpiring is the respect we have for the players, we've all played a game where an official/ marker has had a negative effect on our game, therefore I strive to give the best officiating to every player I work with."

For Adam, the hardest thing about being a bowls official is sometimes the lack of respect shown towards markers and umpires at both local and national level.

He said: "In any sport officials will make mistakes (that's what makes us human) but it's not done intentionally.
"It's the same as when you play - you wouldn't purposefully bowl a bad wood! 99 per cent of players are respectful towards officials but I'll always remember the one per cent that have something to say to fellow markers/umpires.
"In bowls generally, there's also this unfortunate stigma that people think bowls is "an old people's" game! You only have to look at county level, national finals, and the international teams to realise that this couldn't be further from the truth, bowls is a sport for everyone, age, ethnicity, gender and disability! This also applies to markers and umpires.
"For me that's the best thing about bowls; that it's inclusive for all! How many sports can everyone compete together?"

Sian Honnor

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December 2023

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