FORMER national hockey player now turned international umpire, Ayanna Mc Clean will be representing TT at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics after she was appointed by the Fédération Internationale de Hockey to officiate at the games.
She is the first female and second person from the Caribbean to be selected to umpire at a World Cup or Olympic Games after fellow countryman Roger St Rose.
Commenting on her appointment, Mc Clean said, “It is amazing coming from the Caribbean there isn’t a lot of opportunities because we don’t attend a lot of tournaments especially at the high level. So, it was a difficult journey, it was a lot of work and sacrifice over the years.” She explained the process of becoming a qualified umpire. “I studied in the US and from there I got my appointment in and out of the PanAm region and you go through grading and marking very similar to FIFA. You go to tournaments and get graded, there is also a fitness test. Then, you are chosen for other tournaments based on skills, abilities and not messing up too many times.”
The scholarship awardee and Hofstra University Alumni said, “Your appointment to the Olympics is just as big as qualifying as an athlete because you have the same amount of practice, training, mental and physical coaching.” Commenting on what her appointment means to this region, “It is a very good look for us not only in TT but in the broader Caribbean. In a sport where there is not a lot representation from an athletic perspective there is now representation from the administration and officials. Therefore, we can now look to the International body for sponsorship.”
The former national defender said, “I hope to inspire people to push pass what the opportunities are because I was once a player and I recognized that it is going to be a tough road because there are so many different layers. So, I put it on myself and say let’s take another avenue and put the work in.”
She hopes that her actions can motivate others when she said, “Once you put in the investment then people can look at me and say well, she did this and that in terms of sacrificing and it paid off.”