At 17, Kazakhstan’s Amina Dyussembekova has already played and umpired international hockey matches
She is just 17 but already wears many hats. Amina Dyussembekova was accompanying the Kazakhstan women’s hockey team in Delhi for the Hockey World League Round 2 competition as an umpire. Till last year, she was a member of the Kazakh junior national team, representing the country in various international tournaments. Back home, she is also a coach for youngsters.
This was her first international tournament as an umpire. On field, Amina is all business — handling the tense situations with ease. Off field, however, she comes across as a typical teenager who giggles a lot, loves to party and is unsure of her career plans.
“I played the junior Asia Cup last year in Bangkok against teams like India, Malaysia, Japan and China. A lot of players from those countries are playing here in this tournament. But my coach back home suggested I try my hand at umpiring as well, and I am enjoying it here,” she said.
Her young age and her familiarity with the game ensure she is friendlier with the players than most officials. However, she insisted her age is not a drawback against older players and neither age nor friendliness affects her decisions as umpire.
Amina officiated in two matches in the Hockey World League — both played by India against Fiji and Malaysia respectively. Coming from a country which does not boast of a strong hockey tradition, Amina picked up the stick only four years back at the age of 13. “I play for my club Besarys back home, in the city of Taldykorgan. When I am not playing, I coach the younger players in my club. There are not too many people who play hockey, so most players do a bit of both playing and coaching,” she said in halting English.
In fact, her playing for the Kazakh junior team is a big reason for Amina learning English, she said, since it used to be very difficult earlier to communicate on tours. Even here, there is hardly any player or team official from Russia or Kazakhstan who speaks English. Amina has to labour but manages to get her point across.
It was difficult for Amina to convince her parents to let her play hockey. “I have a younger sister but no one in my family plays. Not even distant relatives. I started playing by seeing some other girls in my city and neighbourhood but it was not easy to get permission. That was one of the reasons to start umpiring because it helps develop a proper career,” she signed off.