Saturday, January 23, 2021

Badminton umpire goes international 

Botswana’s acclaimed badminton umpire Emmanuel Kgaboetsile is part of a select few empires called to officiate at the Toyota Thailand Open, Yonex Thailand open and HSBC Word tour finals 2021. 

The Rakops native is the only African umpire who has been called to be part of the three tournaments which will be hosted in Thailand from the 12th to the 31st of this month (January).

Kgaboetsile’s involvement will add to his already burgeoning reputation as one of the few elite badminton umpires in the world.

In his 15-year career as an umpire, he has officiated at the most prestigious events in the world.

He has officiated at the Olympics, World Senior and Junior Championships, super series, All Africa Games, 6 All Africa Senior and many more locally.  

“I have officiated in all Continents and more than 30 countries around the world,” he explained.

As he readies to officiate in Thailand, Kgaboetsile knows he will be part of a historic moment in badminton.

“This will be history since Badminton World Federation (BWF) has never hosted 3 tournaments in a space of a day or 2 between,” he explained.

“As umpires we will also be making history as only 10 have been invited and we will be working together in those 3 tournaments,” noted Kgaboetsile.

According to Kgaboetsile, it will also be the first time in the history of Badminton for a country to host 2 Super 1000 and World Tour Finals. 

“Super 1000 series means prize money is over 1 million Us Dollars.  Initially there were only 3 Super 1000 series in the world, which were the All England, Indonesia Open and China Open. This time around, all the best players in the world are in Thailand for these historic tournaments.”

The first two tournaments players will be playing to qualify for the World Tour Finals, and only top 8 players in each category will qualify for the world tour finals.”

When asked why he thinks he has been called to the tournaments, Kgaboetsile had this to say “In 2019 I did over 200 matches and my performance was good during appraisals, so I believe it contributed to me being called to umpire here.”

With the magnitude of the games in mind, the locally acclaimed umpire said he looks forward to a ‘challenging and interesting few days in which he expects to learn new things and gain more experience.’

With spectators not allowed into the arena and all games expected to be beamed live on television, Kgaboetsile said there will be pressure and umpires will have to be spot on as replays will put their every decision under scrutiny.

He said badminton is one of the biggest sports in Asia, adding that almost all Asian countries will be watching it live. 

Kgaboetsile said when he comes back, he hopes to have gained a lot of experience and knowledge which he will be able to share with his fellow umpires in the country.

“For the past three days we were in a workshop discussing scenarios that are usually happening, and I am always sharing this with our umpires back at home so that they also learn,” he said. 

“This year I will be conducting some training at Botswana for upcoming umpires and also brushing those who are already there with the new rules as they keep on changing,” he concluded.

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