OFFICIAL’S WHISTLE – Let’s meet Lars Rifve

Lars Rifve is one of the lucky – and talented – umpires who will be selected for the upcoming London Olympic Games in 2012. Michaela Bencova, his colleague,  asked the […]

Lars Rifve is one of the lucky – and talented – umpires who will be selected for the upcoming London Olympic Games in 2012. Michaela Bencova, his colleague,  asked the 49-year-old from Sweden about his career for her monthly column ‘The Official’s Whistle’.

Photos: Badmintonphoto and Rights reserved (golfing photo)

How long have you been umpiring?

Since 1993.

How did you start with badminton?

My father brought me and my sister to a sports hall and our family played together. We also played in school and in a club.

In countries like China, Malaysia, England when we say badminton, people know what it is. How popular or known is badminton in your country?

It is very popular, perhaps less then twenty years ago, but badminton is now on the schools’ agenda again. Sweden will arrange National School Championships this season after many years of absence.

If someone wants to be umpire in your country, what is the procedure?

You contact your umpire organisation in your region. They carry out club umpire courses. Next step is the district umpire course, conducted by certificated umpire trainers and the final step is the association umpire course carried out every second year at the national championships. Furthermore the Umpires Committe coaches two levels of umpires: potential umpires for national level and potentials for international level. Some get introduced by being line judges. The success of such an introduction is to involve them as a part of court officials from the beginning and give them good training.

We are talking about professional players, professional coaches, but umpires are not paid and are all volunteers. How do you deal with this in your home country?

Sweden is very generous and sends out umpires after receiving invitations to BE and BWF tournaments. The travel is financed 100% by our federation and we take vacation for the tournament. It is very popular and Sweden today has three BWF umpires and eight BE umpires. Our association has a high priority for our continuous development to send out the umpires for international duties.

Apart from your umpiring career, what is your day job?

I am a human resources and sustainability manager for a factory in Sweden.

What are your hobbies apart from badminton?

Refurbishing our house and enjoying our garden, fishing at our cottage, cross-country skiing in winter and golf in summer.

What is, for you, the funniest or the most frustrating moment from court?

I was a volunteer (mopper) at 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and when the umpires’ bus was delayed in the morning of  the first round, I was asked to be the service judge for the very first match. I took the opportunity to be promoted for a match. Very unexpected, but a great motivaton for my umpiring career.

Recently you were nominated to officiate at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. What does it mean for you and your family?

A once in a lifetime challenge worth waiting for! It is a great recognition, but also a big responsibility for me (us) to present badminton as an important and entertaining sport in the Olympic Games. I have full support from my family and they are proud!

About Michaela Bencova