PVL 2023: Dutch referee Schut on Indian volleyball’s need for better discipline

Bjarne Schut, a 26-year-old international volleyball referee from the Netherlands currently in India for the Prime Volleyball League, finds the Indian format more entertaining and fast-paced than European leagues.

Published : Mar 02, 2023 20:07 IST

Dutch referee Bjarne Schut
Dutch referee Bjarne Schut | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Dutch referee Bjarne Schut | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hailing from a family of volleyball players, Bjarne Schut is an international referee of a sport that he has never played. 

“Volleyball in most parts of the world is not a career option. As a referee, you can live with it and pay your expenses, and travel a lot, that’s why young people mostly start as a referee to enjoy the game, “ Schut tells Sportstar.

“With experience, you can travel to cool places around the world, and I think that’s the most fun part of being a referee.”

The 26-year-old Dutchman found out about the Prime Volleyball League from a Dutch volleyball coach.

“In December, I got a text from Lesley de Jonge, a Dutch volleyball coach, who told me about PVL. Once I got support from the people back home, I decided to come here. I contacted the people in charge and discussed the plan with them. I was impressed by their organising and putting this whole show,” he says.

While being objective and impartial are tenets he swears by, he admits that the Ahmedabad Defenders, Calicut Heroes and Kolkata Thunderbolts, in that order, have impressed him.

Schut finds the Indian league format more entertaining and fast-paced than European leagues.

The fierce power plays by the European athletes in leagues abroad, and the attempt to keep the ball moving by the Indian players is one major difference Schut sees in both systems.

Bjarne Schut thinks Indian volleyball could use some more discipline.
Bjarne Schut thinks Indian volleyball could use some more discipline.

Bjarne Schut thinks Indian volleyball could use some more discipline.

Another stark distinction is the discipline.

“It’s different from that of in Europe because we(referees) are strict and demand discipline from players. We show a yellow card in almost every match because that’s the final line that one should not cross. I noticed in India, it is less disciplined, but if some players want to go to Europe in the upcoming years, they need to show some discipline. It’s not only for us that we want to show a card, but we are also trying to help the athletes,” he says.

PVL sees frequent use of reviews, especially for block touches, something the Dutchman deems as natural.

Block touches are the hardest part in refereeing because as the first referee and second referee, you are watching from the side. The block touch is visible if you’re behind or in front of the ball, that’s where we must trust and rely on the four line judges. The hardest touch to identify is when it slightly touches the finger and moves a bit. That is something only the attacker and the defender sometimes notice, that’s what most of the challenges are about.,” he explains.

Schut has embraced the Indian experience with open arms. One even spotted the referee dancing while officiating in a PVL game, the clip of which went viral on social media. But he struggles to wrap his head around the country’s traffic situation and can’t stop talking about the small roads and jams.

“I thought Bengaluru was crazy, with all those little streets and lot of traffic. Then came Hyderabad, the place we stayed had wide roads, but some parts had the same feeling as the small streets of Bengaluru but with a lot of tuk-tuks and drivers sounding their horns. In Kochi, it is more crowded than the other two cities, but the metro system works perfectly, so I prefer travelling with the metro here,” he says.

Outside of volleyball, Schut enjoys golfing, watching ice skating videos and spending time with his pet corgi Maui.

Schut and his pet corgi Maui
Schut and his pet corgi Maui

Schut and his pet corgi Maui

“Her name is from an island in Hawaii, where I studied for two months after high school. I wanted to name her different from the standard European names,” he says.

Schut will get some time with Maui and his family after PVL before travelling for the FIVB Nations League, where the top eight national teams battle it out against each other.

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