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Jamie Hooper shares his story

Jamie Hooper umpire
"This month is LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) history month, a month marked to remember LGBT history and how it has shaped the way LGBT people can live now and how they will in the future. It also represents the chance for England Hockey and I to help promote how diverse and inclusive our wonderful sport is.

My name is Jamie Hooper, I am a Welsh FIH International Umpire both indoor and outdoor, and I umpire in the England Hockey Men’s National League. I am a level 2 hockey coach, I helped to establish and lead the European Hockey Federation Youth Panel, and I also happen to be an openly gay man.

Alongside umpiring, I am the Men’s 1XI team captain for the London Royals Hockey Club, the UK’s largest LGB hockey club, and I am hugely proud to do so as we enter our second season in the league. We have two men’s teams that play regular league hockey, a mixed team, and we regularly organise ladies friendly games. We tour every year, once within the UK and once abroad, and would challenge the most social of clubs to a good night out!

My sexual orientation has always been a tiny part of who I am. Minuscule in comparison to how important sport is in my life. Being able to merge the two together through the sport that I love most is truly humbling. The London Royals have taught me a lot about how it is okay to be myself on and off the pitch and there is nothing more rewarding than that, except being able to play hockey at the same time. For that I am forever grateful.

I am just about to embark on kick starting my international umpiring career. I have the FIH World League Round 2 coming up in March in Belfast, EuroHockey Championships II in Glasgow in August, and dreams of the Commonwealth Games next year in Australia. To date, I have never yet received any negativity on or off the pitch about my sexuality and I do not, perhaps foolishly, expect to receive any in the future. When I am on the pitch I am there to do a job and it should not and has not ever mattered and that is something that I really believe hockey does so well.

But I am still very much learning what it is like to be an international umpire; travelling to foreign countries, performing at top level tournaments with a group of umpires and teams from across the world, some from very different cultures speaking very different languages with very different perspectives. As a new umpire on the international programme I face the challenge of whether to come out or not at every tournament. Does it matter? Should I say something? Should I go along with the banter? My sexuality is not something I am shy about but I don’t like to make other people feel uncomfortable so rarely talk about it overseas. However, we need to work with real-life role models to lead the way for LGBT people in sport, reassuring them that it is OK to play whatever your sexual orientation and this is my attempt.

I have personally seen and felt the happiness that sport and particularly hockey can provide to so many people. I would like to challenge everyone reading this to push themselves to make their clubs, schools, leagues and competitions as inclusive as possible not only to LGBT people but to absolutely everyone.

We must continue to work together to eradicate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport and allow everyone the opportunity to have a love of the game like you and I both do."

We want to thank Jamie for this blog piece and wish him the best of luck on his umpiring journey! 

If you would like more resources around LGBT subject please see the LGBT foundation for more information. You can also purchase Rainbow laces for your club and team mates as part of Stonewalls national campaign to stamp homophobia out of sport. 

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