Updated: May 28
Maybe just a few people know that you have participated in the 1st Teqball World Cup in 2017 as a player representing England in the doubles category. How did you meet teqball and why did you decide to dig deeper into this sport at a very early stage?
MARTIN: "My first memory of Teqball comes from 2016. I’ve heard about the game prior to that, I knew that an acquaintance of mine was working there and then in 2016 they organized a tournament at my university. I entered the tournament, got knocked out in the group stages, but the whole experience somehow just got hold of me, the game itself, the atmosphere of such an event, the way the more experienced players were playing. I contacted my acquaintance shortly afterwards and asked him about opportunities to work for them. My idea was, that this is a new thing that interests me and has high potential, so joining in early on is worth a shot, to say the least."
At what point did you decide to move over from being an athlete to becoming a teqball referee?
MARTIN: "In the beginning, most of us did various jobs, besides refereeing, I also played at events and installed tables for example. Then when the sport began to expand the different aspects of the sport started branching off. Being a professional athlete working for Teqball became a full-time job, that I wouldn’t have been able to maintain, and also the whole referee system was created in 2018. They contacted me whether I would like to be a professional referee and although I was never a referee in any other sport, after weighing the pros and responsibilities, I accepted."
Since your joining to teqball, the International Federation of Teqball has been established and the sport has spread all across the world. Did you expect this global awareness and development of this sport at the beginning?
MARTIN: "Expecting it certainly yes, rather the curve of it is what surprised me to some extent. Teqball has constantly been progressing so far, at a steady rate in the beginning, then around 2018 it took on a steeper trajectory and has been becoming more and more well-known around the world. What I didn’t expect when I started was that friends would soon be sending me screenshots of myself in advertisements as a referee."
Your first huge challenge as a teqball referee was your selection as the Main Referee of the final games of the 2nd World Championships in Reims, France. Can you recall your feelings during the rehearsal and before the game?
MARTIN: "As one of the more experienced refs I knew that there was a good chance I would be selected as the referee for the finals beforehand, so I had time to prepare mentally. The biggest challenge for me was when they told me I will be equipped with a live microphone that could not be turned off during the game, so not only would I have to make quick decisions in front of thousands of people in the arena and many more through broadcast, but I would also have to be saying them out loud. I never did anything like this before and also didn’t have any example to build upon, so normally I would say I was nervous, but actually I wasn’t. I might have been inside, I don’t know, but the weight of responsibility just took over and I was so concentrated on the task at hand, that the only feeling during the rehearsal and the final games was, that I must not let anybody down, especially myself."
How do you prepare mentally for a live broadcast match and what advice would you give to other referees who will be officiating live on TV?
MARTIN: "I don’t have any kind of concrete routine, I just try to shut out all the white noise in order to be focused. I disconnect myself from the internet and just clear out my thoughts, some people would, for example, listen to music in such situations, that doesn’t work for me. What also might seem weird to some, is that I don’t eat too much before the games on purpose. It’s hard to give advice because everybody is different. The main thing is not to be nervous, stay calm, but this is easier said than done. Try to think about rational facts, for example, accept that you will probably make mistakes, or at least have questionable decisions, so don’t ruminate on those. Also, if you are selected for the job, you are probably the best suited for it. But probably the best individual advice I can give is “be in the zone”, whatever that means to you, without that I don’t think you can referee a game correctly under pressure."
By being one of the most experienced teqball referees in the history of the sport, what advice would you give to new, prospective teqball referees?
MARTIN: "Practice as much as you can. In the case of refereeing this means practising the appliance of the rules, so officiate as many games as you can, as well as practising refereeing under pressure. During games be positive, don’t care about what the players/coaches/fans say, you might make a mistake, but there’s no point in analysing it during the match. On the other hand, try analysing your performance after the game, request feedback so you can see what you need to improve in and be self-critical. You have to have confidence and a healthy amount of ego, otherwise, you will not be able to function as a referee under pressure, even if you make 100% correct decisions in practice games."