New umpire’s badge earned

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Eyes on the game . . . University of Otago student Morgan Craig umpires a premier B game at the Edgar Centre last month. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

A University of Otago student has earned his New Zealand B netball umpires badge.

Morgan Craig (19), of Gore, umpired at the national under-19 netball championship in Invercargill last month, and was surprised to learn of his new qualification.

Craig, who is studying towards a bachelor of commerce degree, said he was “pretty stoked”.

“I’ve been on my New Zealand C for three years.”

He wanted the qualification and had worked towards it, but did not think it would come from the tournament, he said.

“I guess it gives you more drive now to go higher, because you see the improvements and you see the gain.”

To earn the badge, he was watched by an umpire coach and judged on his performance, he said.

During the tournament, Craig umpired seven games, including the 3rd-4th final, and was selected as reserve in the 1st-2nd final.

“It was pretty exciting because going into it I didn’t really plan on getting higher games.

“I just planned on learning and [getting] all the experience.”

He enjoyed the 3rd-4th game, between Trust Waikato Hamilton City and Christchurch, because it was a close encounter.

Higher level games were typically more intense, so he had to be on his game, he said.

It was “pretty cool” to be reserve in the 1st-2nd final, especially because it was his first time at a national under-19 tournament.

It showed that all the hard work he put in when he was away from the court had paid off, including gym work, sprint training and umpiring club netball, he said.

“Most of my Saturday netball is practice games to build up to tournament.

“When you’re confident with the rules you know that you can apply them and know that at the end of the day you’re going to make the right calls.

“That helps mentally.”

He umpires premier netball in Dunedin on Saturdays.

The league was mostly university students, who had come from around the country and each had their own playing style, he said.

“Everyone plays really different styles, so it’s always like a different game.”

The level was high, so it was similar to umpiring at tournaments, he said.