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Long-serving umpire honoured

Stalwart David Pala’amo has been rewarded for his long and significant contribution to umpiring with a Netball New Zealand Service Award at the recently-held 90th Council Meeting in Queenstown.

Christchurch’s Pala’amo reached the top of his game after firstly gaining his New Zealand Umpire Award in 1995 and his International Award in 2001, going on to officiate around the world at top-class events such as the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and a number of international series as well as the former trans-Tasman competition.

Having umpired for 20 years before retiring in 2010, Pala’amo was slightly bemused to just how much he had achieved and humbled to be recognised.

“It’s a little bit emotional when you get given something like the Service Award,” he said. “I think when you get an award like that, you don’t realise how involved you’ve been in the sport, then when it happens, you think, `gosh, have I done all those things’?”

After playing rugby league and basketball at school, sport took a back seat until Pala’amo discovered indoor netball which was closely followed by outdoor netball, his path to umpiring coming on the back of putting his money where his mouth was.

“When playing indoor netball in Dunedin, I used to moan about the umpiring,” he said, “and a lady suggested I take it up since I was so concerned about it, so I did.”

The rest, as they say, is history. And Pala’amo couldn’t have been happier with his choice in forging such a successful and enjoyable umpiring career.

Since retiring from active umpiring, Pala’amo has become part of Netball New Zealand’s high performance arm where he is an umpire assessor and coach.

“It just seemed a natural transition and that continuity and flow of crossing from one to the other was perfect,’’ he said.

Aside from umpiring at world-class events, a particular highlight for Pala’amo was obtaining the autograph of the world’s greatest track runner Usain Bolt, who was watching the Jamaican netballers at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Describing himself as a Jack of all Trades, Pala’amo remains heavily involved with Netball as President of Men’s Netball New Zealand and coaching in Christchurch.