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Second Olympic Games for Church


GISBORNE’s international hockey umpire Amber Church has been selected to officiate at her second Olympic Games and the appointment has thrilled her.

The 31-year-old schoolteacher obtained her international umpiring qualification in 2010 at the Pan American championships.

Since then she has controlled games at the Rio de Janiero Olympics in 2016, and at various women’s world cup and world league tournaments.

“I found out on Wednesday morning with an email from the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) and once it sank in I was ecstatic,” Church said today.

“That’s what I have been working towards for the past four years.

“There was relief there, too, that the hard work had paid off, not just for me, but for my family and my school, who have all been so supportive.”

Church featured this year as an umpire in the FIH Pro League Competition.

Hockey NZ said she and Kiwi men’s umpire Simon Taylor produced “a rich vein of form and some outstanding performances in the Pro League”.

Church said it was “awesome to be part of the inaugural FIH Pro League this year and to be appointed to the Pro League grand finals”.

“The quality of hockey was world class, and having the chance to umpire at that level was something I’m always going to be grateful for.”

She has three times won the Hockey NZ female umpire of the year award.

Church still has time for club hockey in Poverty Bay and plays a leading role for Paikea.

Hockey commentator Tony Scragg said her appointment for Tokyo was another step along the pathway of a brilliant career.

“Poverty Bay hockey has always been proud of her achievements as an umpire,” he said.

“Amber has put us on the international stage as a district.

“People tend to remember more the athletes who compete at the top level like the Olympic Games, but officials like Amber are such a crucial part of those events.

“I have always shared a joke with Amber that I would pay for her travel when she made the Olympics. I’d better get a second job now.”


OFF TO TOKYO: Gisborne’s Amber Church will umpire at the Tokyo Olympic Games next year. She has been appointed to her second Olympics and she’s thrilled about it. Amber has twice won the Hockey NZ female umpire of the year award and still competes for Paikea in the Poverty Bay competition. File picture
UMPIRE OF THE YEAR: Amber Church was named women’s umpire of the year for the third time at the Hockey New Zealand annual awards. She is now gearing up to officiate at the Hockey Women’s World Cup in London in July. Picture supplied