NSW Umpires shine at Games

While netball supporters around the State are still celebrating the Australian Netball Team’s Commonwealth Games success, another team of Australians have recently returned home having completed a highly successful tournament.

New South Wales umpires Rachael Ayre (Sutherland Shire), Clare McCabe (Eastwood Ryde), Michelle Phippard (Manly-Warringah/Netball Victoria) and 12-time Netball Australia Umpire of the Year Sharon Kelly (Northern Suburbs) are back on Australian shores following the two-week international tournament. The NSW quartet impressed throughout the Commonwealth Games, which was Michelle Phippard’s third; having attended in 2002 and 2006 before a gap of eight years to have her three children.

Although Michelle has umpired at both a domestic and international level for many years, she said there is something different about officiating at a Commonwealth Games.

“It’s always different, as the Commonwealth Games are a multi-sport event… so you have exciting things like seeing all the athletes from other sports coming to the netball which was really great.”

“The English umpires were very excited to see some of their country’s top athletes watching the netball, and we had a number of the Australian Swimming Team in the crowd as well. Usain Bolt was there and everyone got quite enthusiastic about that, plus we had Prince Edward, Princess Sophie plus their little girl came two or three times.”

During the Semi Final between New Zealand and Jamaica, a match which was officiated by an all-NSW outfit, Sharon Kelly presided over her 100th International, with a special presentation made to her by INF President Molly Rhone and Prince Edward. “We [Rachael and I] were really excited and thrilled to be there for it [Sharon’s 100th],” expressed Michelle. “We were really pleased that an effort was made to acknowledge such a great achievement, and that it was something as special as having Royalty present the certificate. I know I was pretty excited, Rachael will tell you I was squealing, and maybe more excited than Sharon!” laughed Michelle.

The Australian officials were appointed to a number of key matches at this year’s Commonwealth Games, with their performances winning admiration and praise.

“I was really pleased with the games that I got, and in general I was pretty pleased with my performance. I went there with a goal to do certain things, which I was able to achieve, so I was pleased about that,” Michelle stated.

After such a busy 2014 netball calendar, Michelle is looking forward to some time at home before she embarks upon another eventful twelve months, which will involve the 2015 ANZ Championship and if selected, the Netball World Cup here in NSW.

“2015 is going to be really exciting with the Netball World Cup in Sydney, which is going to be fantastic and great for the sport. And to potentially have the opportunity to umpire in front of a home crowd and to showcase netball in a country like Australia where it’s such a huge participant sport and has such great public support will be exciting,” concluded Michelle.