Raghu completes superb century!

Milestone man

Raghu completes superb century!

Away from spotlight surrounding some of the top players in the FIH World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium, an unassuming and shy Indian added a special feather to his cap by blowing the whistle for a 100th game.

Bengaluru’s Raghu Prasad, one of the best and affable umpires in the world today, on Wednesday became the third Indian and 35th in the world to complete the 100-game landmark.

“It’s an awesome feeling to reach this milestone as it is not an easy job for an umpire to reach that level,” an elated Raghu told Deccan Herald. “I cannot express how I feel about it -- it really is unbelievable. I’m like on top of the world.”

Raghu, who admires fellow umpires Henrik Ehlers from Denmark and John Wright of South Africa, said he always wanted to be an umpire despite the lack of proper remuneration. “There were many hurdles. There hasn’t been enough recognition for umpires. Although I’ve been in this field for a long time now, I’m sorry to say, but there has been limited government support.

“I need to thank my family and friends who have helped me all along to achieve this Golden Whistle which is given to hockey umpires who have officiated in 100 senior international games. I feel proud that hailing from Karnataka, I’ve been able to achieve this.
“Without my family support, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this. Unlike the players who are employed, I don’t have a proper job. That’s the biggest hurdle even now. Sometimes it hurts when we are not recognised by our own government for awards or jobs, or any other benefits. Have we not achieved milestone in our own way or contributed to field of sports for the state or country?” questioned the 36-year-old.

Since becoming an international umpire in 2003, Raghu has officiated at many world-level events including the London 2012 Olympic Games and last year’s World Cup in The Hague. The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and four Champions Trophy events also feature on his impressive resume.

When asked how has he kept himself fit and in tune with the modern game, Raghu said it’s pure hard work and determination.

“Hockey has become a professional game and hence we have to approach the game in a professional manner and for this we have to be both mentally and physically fit, to give the best possible decision at the right time and right place.

“Teams prepare well in advance for their matches to win the championship and it is our duty to make them play in safe and encouraging environment and to protect their skills. We have to gain their trust and make this game more entertaining for the spectators to watch.”

Raghu, the third Indian after Satinder Kumar and Javed Shaikh to officiate in 100 matches, said he hasn’t thought about his immediate future. “Haven't thought about the future umpiring thing, let me take things on and off field as they come. Have to give time to family and seriously think about my family future as well. If time and situation permit, I can go on and on!”

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