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Young Umpire aiming for further success

At just 16 years old Ella Higgins is quickly marking her mark in Netball circles as an up and coming umpire to keep an eye on.

Currently finishing Year 11 at Cambridge High School, Ella has spent the last months balancing NCEA with studying for her umpire qualifications and her diligent work is paying off.

In 2017 Ella has achieved her New Zealand C Award, a qualification that requires completion of both theory examinations and practical evaluations. This year she was named in the Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty (NWBOP) Zone Level 2 Performance Group, a significant step on the pathway for national squads.

And her achievements have been rewarded both on and off court with Ella taking control of the B grade final at the 2017 UNISS tournament in Auckland, as well as receiving the ‘Official of the Year’ Award at the 2017 Waipa Networks District Sports Awards held recently.

Ella has been umpiring for four years after initially looking for a way to give back to Netball, a sport she enjoyed as a player, and enjoys being able to make Netball possible for others.

Umpiring has also helped develop new skills for Ella, often having to deal with challenging situations quickly, interpreting new rules and situations as well as learning how to manage multiple, and sometime quite different viewpoints

NWBOP Umpire Development Officer Jan Teesdale couldn’t be happier with the progress that Ella has been making.

“We’re really happy with the progress that Ella is making and keen to support her where we can. She’s mixing with it with adults in a lot of the games she controls and she’s not out of place” Teesdale said.

Along with the enjoyment she gets from being on court, Ella is also quick to praise the close knit and supportive community that she’s found in umpiring.

“So many people are willing to help you succeed and look out for you. It’s an amazingly kind and caring community to be part of it and that really helps.”

“The pathway to qualification is not just about exams, there are so many small successes to be made along the way which help develop confidence both on and off the court.”

Ella’s dream is to take control of a game internationally one day, but if that doesn’t happen there is always a back-up plan with Ella currently considering further study in paramedic care or physiotherapy

“I guess I’ve had some successes already but to umpire an international game is really the big dream at this stage”

The advice she would give to anyone else considering giving umpiring a go? “Never give up, be positive about your role and know that you will succeed.”

Ella is keen to acknowledge that she wouldn’t be enjoying her achievements today without the help and support of a number of people including the team at Cambridge Netball Centre, Umpire Development staff at NWBOP and Netball New Zealand.