Sibling rivalry as Charles eyes Olympic umpiring job

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Isaac Charles has become one of the youngest hockey umpires at a national level and is now competing with his brother for a job at the Olympics.

The 16-year-old West Suffolk College pupil, who has been a qualified umpire since the age of 12, has umpired the National Girls’ Schools Finals under-14 tournament and the Boys’ under-16 tournament.

The Girls Schools Finals, one of hockey’s longest running events, took the stage as the first national finals to be held at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, hockey’s Olympic legacy venue at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

In September Isaac was awarded a place on the National Young Umpire Promising list at the minimum age requirement and in January assessed as a level two umpire.

“I am training in Sports Science at West Suffolk College and have been very grateful to my tutors for their flexibility in allowing me time off to umpire these games,” said Charles.

“My biggest ambition is to become an umpire in the Olympic Games – but my brother Jack wants to do that too and there is only one job. So we are competing against each other. It’s all very friendly, though.”

The starting point for the youngster’s umpiring career was playing as goalkeeper on local teams, but he is following in the footsteps of his father, Dave, who is the umpire development officer for Suffolk and Chief Coach for East Young Umpiring Action Group and also his brother, Jake, a sports student at Bedford University, who is now a National League umpire at the young age of 20.

Lee Mandley, Course Director level three Sports and Sciences at West Suffolk College said “to achieve national recognition and be given such responsibility in sport is a tremendous achievement at any age but for Isaac to be at this stage in his sport at 16 is testament to his character, his dedication to hockey, and his potential.

“In addition to his sporting and officiating prowess, Isaac has shown great maturity in successfully balancing a full-time college course with his sporting commitments and we are extremely proud to have Isaac at West Suffolk College.”

Charles’ mother Debbie, Community Safety Coordinator for Suffolk County Council, has also decided to join in with the family’s hockey mania by becoming appointed as a match official declaring, “It was a case of if you can’t beat them join them.”