Without Officials it is just a practice.

Without Officials it is just a Practice!

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Alhambra Nievas Rugby Referee

Alhambra Nievas photo 2

Alhambra Nievas

Alhambra Nievas photo 1

Alhambra Nievas

2016 Olympic Rugby Referee


Alhambra Nievas Rugby Referee
Chats with us before going to the Olympics
Without Officials it is just a practice!
2016 Gold Medal Referee

November 2016

Another update! Alhambra just became the first woman to win the World Rugby Referee of the Year Award as 2016 co-winner with Rasta Rasivhenge. You can read about it here – Olympic Referees share Referee of the Year Award Congratulations to Alhambra Nievas! What a great year!

August 2016

Congratulations Alhambra on being awarded the 1st ever Rugby Sevens Women’s Olympic Gold Medal Game. I am so happy for you! Jim Game Results

Alhambra Nievas is one of the top elite rugby referees in the world. Male or female.

From Granada Spain, Alhambra is part of a very strong team of international referees that will be representing the sport of rugby in the 2016 Olympic Games. This will be the first time rugby has been played at the Olympics since 1924, and Alhambra and her fellow referee team have all been working very hard to be prepared for the historic return of the sport to the Games.

Between, and during, the 6 Nations and the 7’s World Series, leading up to the excitement in Rio, Alhambra has been Alhambra Nievas photo 2working hard at training with the other Olympic Elites whenever they find an opportunity. Next year will be the 2017 Rugby World Cup in Ireland and a new challenge in the fifteens once the Olympics are finished, but Alhambra is taking everything one step at a time and proving her excellence with every step she takes.

Alhambra was honoured with a nomination for the 2015 World Rugby Referee of the Year Award along with Jerome Garces and Nigel Owens. Not only is this special because it is so rare for women to be recognized on the world stage, but it is particularly remarkable because Nigel Owens is generally regarded as the top sports official in the world across all the different sports. Owens eventually won the award that night, but Alhambra’s nomination was such a huge step forward for female officials in all sports. It was a tremendous achievement by this very friendly and outgoing young lady that was certainly noted by women all over the world.

Alhambra Nievas photo 3Alhambra is very excited to be a part of the Olympic Games. “Being selected for Rio 2016 It is a dream come true.. since I played and now as a referee, I always wish to be part of Olympic Games, so big for all athletes. It is a great opportunity for all of us and now our goal as a Team is to arrive in the best conditions to contribute a successful and amazing tournament, showing the world the unique essence of our sport.Being selected for Rio 2016, it is a dream come true” she told me. “Ever since I played, and now as a referee, I always wished to be part of the Olympic Games.”

Alhambra is also well aware of the responsibility that comes along with the honour of her appointment. “It is so big for all athletes. It is a great opportunity for all of us and now our goal as a Team is to arrive in the best conditions to contribute to a successful and amazing tournament, showing the world the unique essence of our sport.”

These are exciting times for every athlete who has prepared for so many years to make it to the 2016 Olympic Games. The officials are no exception. Only the very best in the world are going to be in the arenas of Rio de Janeiro, and Alhambra Nievas is amongst them. She has earned her spot with a lot of hard work and is a fantastic leader for young officials who will be watching the games and dreaming of the day when they get their chance to run with the best!

Thanks for reading!

Alhambra Nievas Twitter  
Alhambra Nievas Facebook 

A fantastic short video interview with Alhambra by World Rugby is here
There is a nice article, translated from Spanish to English, about the Referee of the Year Nomination here.

Read these Officials101 chats with officials attending the 2016 Olympic Games:

Michelle Joubert Field Hockey 2016 Olympics Women’s Field Hockey Gold Medal Game
Fanneke Alkemade Field Hockey
Kylie Seymour Field Hockey 

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Fanneke Alkemade Olympic FieldHockey Umpire

Fanneke Alkemade Field Hockey Umpire

Fanneke Alkemade

Fanneke Alkemade

Fanneke Alkemade

Field Hockey Umpire – Pre Olympic Chat

Fanneke Alkemade Field Hockey Umpire
A little chat before heading to the Olympics
Without Officials it is just a practice!

Fanneke Alkemade fhumpire imageFanneke Alkemade is an elite international field hockey umpire from the Netherlands. She has been selected to be an umpire in the Olympics next month in Rio de Janeiro. Many years of hard work and dedication are about to be rewarded with a trip to one of the greatest sports event on the planet.

Fanneke works in the in the pharmaceutical industry doing research and writing papers about drug safety. Currently she is promoting research into Parkinson’s disease as chairwoman of Stichting Alkemade-Keuls. She speaks Dutch, German and English. When she is not busy travelling the world umpiring, she volunteers as a mentor with new umpires working in their first games. It helps the newcomers to get comfortable and build confidence when they first get started.

A number of weeks ago, before I had the blog added to the website, I had the pleasure of a short conversation with Fanneke about the upcoming Olympics in Brazil.

This is Fanneke’s first visit to the Olympics. She has trained hard and travelled many miles to gain the experience and composure it takes to umpire in an event as big as this. Only the very best are even considered for the job and it is a very special appointment that will bring a lifetime of memories. She is “Feeling very excited but also very humble” for the honour of her appointment and the fulfillment ofFanneke Alkemade knhb image june 2016 one of her life dreams.

“Sometimes it still feels unreal that within a couple of months I am an Olympian and umpiring at the Olympic Games becomes a reality!” she told me. The feelings of excitement for the Olympic experience are just as real to the officials as they are to the athletes participating in the games. It is an opportunity of a lifetime that doesn’t come around very often.

This is “where passion, hard work, dedication and fun can lead to” is what Fanneke has to say to the umpires who are working so hard to make their Olympic dreams come true. It is only a few short weeks before Fanneke’s Olympic own dreams will be played out in Rio de Janeiro and she will have a lifetime of stories to share with those new umpires she is helping.

Thanks for reading!

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Fanneke Alkemade – Umpire Career Highlights

Bondsscheidsrechter KNHB
September 2006 – Present (9 years 11 months)

Neutral field hockey umpire. Started in the district Zuid-Holland. Since 2009 umpiring in the women national league (dames hoofdklasse). Since 2013 also umpiring in the men national league (heren hoofdklasse). This combined with the international tournaments mentioned [below].

International umpire indoor – currently Promising List

International Hockey Federation (FIH) January 2012 – Present (4 years 7 months)
International indoor hockey umpire since January 2012.

Experience so far, but not limited to:

– European Championships @ Leipzig
– European Championships @ Prague
– European Club tournaments

International field hockey umpire since January 2012.

Experience so far, but not limited to:


August 2016: Olympic Games @ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2016 Hawke’s Bay Cup @ Hastings
New Zealand 2015 European Championships @ London
UK 2014 Champions Trophy @ Mendoza
Argentina 2014 Champions Challenge @ Glasgow
UK 2013 World League Finals @ Tucuman
Argentina 2013 Junior World Cup @ Monchengladbach
Germany 2012 Champions Challenge @ Dublin
Ireland 2012 European Championships U21 @ Den Bosch
NL Several European club tournaments

If you like this article you may also enjoy these newsfeeds:


You may also enjoy these chats with 2016 Olympic referees and umpires:

Read our chat with FIH Women’s Umpire of the Year Michelle Joubert 2016 Olympic Gold Medal Game
Meet Olympic Rugby Referee Alhambra Nievas 2016 Olympic Gold Medal Game
Meet Kylie Seymour before her first ever Olympic appearance

Links to other articles used as background reading: 
EuroHockey Olympic Umpire announcement
FIH Olympic Umpire announcement

Photo Credits

Fanneke Alkemade

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Michelle Joubert FieldHockey Umpire

Michelle Joubert fieldhockey Umpire of the Year 2015

Michelle Joubert

Michelle Joubert Field Hockey Umpire

Michelle Joubert Hockey Umpire

2016 Olympic Field Hockey Umpire

Michelle Joubert Field Hockey Umpire
Umpire of the Year speaks with us before the Olympics
2016 Gold Medal Umpire

World’s Top FieldHockey Umpire Excited and Ready for Rio

Congratulations Michelle on being awarded the 2016 Gold Medal Game. What a fantastic year you have had. Very exciting to watch! Well done!

Michelle Joubert is an elite international umpire in the sport of FieldHockey. She is the 2015 FIH Women’s International Umpire of the Year Award winner and holder of a Golden Whistle for her first 100 international matches. Michelle Joubert is well prepared for the upcoming Olympics in Rio.

Occasionally, a sport association will be able to produce a team of extraordinary officials. In order to do that it needs a core of extraordinary leaders. Leaders who set the bar high and lead the way. Wise and caring leaders who are willing to share their skills and experiences with others around them. These leaders, these officials, the ones who truly stand out because of their extraordinary personalities and contributions, can have a tremendous impact in their sport on a global basis for years to come. Michelle Joubert is that kind of official.

Michelle Joubert 100th Intl with Marelize de Klerk

Michelle Joubert and Marelize de Klerk

The umpires of Fieldhockey are some of my favourite officials to follow. The people that I have had contact with in this sport and its community have all been so friendly and enthusiastic. They are special and they are great ambassadors for their game. The community is full of fun and friendship and they all truly enjoy their jobs and the relationships they have with each other. It is very much my pleasure to have chatted with many of them and learned from them and about them. They train hard, prepare well and they give everything they have to each match. As a group, there is so much talent in this sport, that becoming the International Umpire of the Year is an incredible achievement. Michelle Joubert is the inaugural recipient of their prestigious award and she has set a very high standard indeed for future umpires to follow.

Michelle Joubert fieldhockey 2015 Umpire of the Year

2015 Umpire of the Year

I first noticed Michelle Joubert in the very early days of Officials101. She was one of the first of many elite umpires and referees to follow the page and certainly the first that really made me take notice of the word ‘elite’. It is her passion and enthusiasm for her sport that are the things you notice first about Michelle but it is her understanding of people and the willingness to share her wisdom that set her apart.

As I write this, Michelle is currently umpiring at the 2016 FIH Champions Trophy in London. You can catch a few glimpses of her in these highlights of the opening match, a 2-2 draw between Argentina and Great Britain. Before she left for London, I asked Michelle what her thoughts are regarding her appointment to the 2016 Olympics.

She told me “It’s an honour to be part of Rio 2016”, and shared some of her insights about what it is like for an umpire to be on the international stage of such a high profile tournament as the Olympic Games.

“Although this tournament is about the athletes competing, us, as officials, also have a huge amount of pressure in ensuring fairness in results and ensuring the best teams end on top.”

It takes years of training and hard work to earn the right to appear as an official at the Olympic Games. As with the Michelle Joubert Linked in profile pic june 2016athletes, only the very best of the best officials will be there. “Mental toughness and physical preparation is key to achieve our goals” she said.

Like the leader she is, Michelle has this note of advice for her Olympic teammates and to the next wave of elite umpires:

 “To the ‘young’ umpires who are embarking on their 1st Olympic Games, I think it is important to be as prepared as best they possibly can, to enjoy the process of preparation and to enjoy this journey. No matter how much or how little you get time on the field, embrace the experience and be grateful for the opportunity. Michelle”

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this page, you may also like these Officials101 Collections:

Field Hockey Umpires 101 Collection  
Hockey Referee 101 Collection 
Olympics Sports Officials 101 Collection
Women’s Sports Officials 101 Collection 

Michelle Joubert Links

Michelle Joubert fieldhockey hockey umpire

Michelle Joubert

Linked In 





You may also enjoy these Officials101 chats with Olympic Officials:

Fanneke Alkemade Field Hockey Umpire 
Alhambra Nievas Rugby Referee 2016 Gold Medal Game
Kylie Seymour Field Hockey Umpire


fih logo

2016 Olympic Umpire Announcement

Northern Blues Hockey Association

Northern Blues Hockey AssociationWebsite

Background Articles

Wikipedia 2010 Champions Trophy
EuroHockey Umpire of the Year announcement
Golden Whistle Award
FIH Umpire of the Year announcement
From the Other Side of the Whistle by Michelle Joubert
Michelle Joubert the Player, the Umpire, The Person by Marianna Putter

Photo Credit

The excellent Title Photo was taken by Gaby Mabromata

Visit theGaby Mabromata Websitehere
Visit the Gaby Mabromata Twitter page to Follow

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Michelle Joubert Collection created by @Officials101T

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