Tailem Bend umpire selected to officiate the National Netball Championships

A Tailem Bend umpire will be a part of several officials that will travel to Tasmania and officiate a major sporting event.

Tailem Bend's, Justin Smedley will head to Hobart to officiate the National Netball Championships. Photo: Supplied.

Tailem Bend's, Justin Smedley will head to Hobart to officiate the National Netball Championships. Photo: Supplied.

18 umpires across the country have been announced to officiate at the National Netball Championships in Hobart at the start of July and Tailem Bend's, Justin Smedley has been included.

On announcement that he had been selected, there was one emotion flowing through Smedley's system.

"Relief!! The commencement of this season wasn't great for me," Smedley said.

"I missed much of the pre-season and rounds one and two of the Netball SA Premier League due to illness.

"I am very glad that my health and fitness is where it needs to be to umpire at this event, it didn't come without a lot of hard work though."

It's been a long journey, but the pay off is beginning to show. The passion for the sport is at an all time high for Smedley heading into the big competition.

"I didn't start umpiring netball until 2014 at the age of 20," Smedley said.

"Recently my Mum was going through an old journal of hers from around the year 2000, she shared an entry with my siblings and I which read: "Justin hasn't found anything that he wants to do extra (outside of school), we have just had a gym built at the school, the opening is next month, maybe he will find something he likes then".

"My earliest memories of netball were in the Tailem Bend Primary School Gymnasium, where I learnt to play mixed netball.

"I umpired C Grade in the River Murray Netball Association for most of the season because there was a shortage of umpires.

"Later in the year Leonne Capes came off the court with a knee injury during an A Reserves game at Jervois, so I jumped on the court and haven't looked back from here. I umpired my first A Grade Game in the RMNA in 2015 with Penny Fielke during a game where Tailem Bend played Imperials.

"I obtained my National C Badge at Ramblers later in the 2015 season, being assessed by Suzie Howell and Bruce Stribley.

"I later went on to umpire my first Netball SA Premier League game with Bruce. In 2016 I was invited into the Talent Identification Squad, umpiring League in the Adelaide Metro Netball Division.

"I was elevated to the Premier League Reserves Division after my first match in AMND League where I umpired Reserves for three seasons.

"In 2018 I umpired my first Premier League game Metro Jets vs Garville.

"For me, I have always been passionate about umpiring, but my umpiring journey has always just been about grasping opportunities when they arise and trying to get the most out of them.

"So, I guess I found my thing! I am glad I did because it has become such a huge part of my life and my netball family mean the world to me."

Only 18 other umpires were selected, there is a lot of trust put upon Smedley and the umpire group.

"This is the very 'pointy' at the top group, so to even be selected in the pool feels like reward for commitment to umpiring," He said.

"It is also a good reminder that at my best, I am capable of umpiring at a high standard.

"It is also a reminder that things are competitive and you need to be able to compete at your best every time you take the court.

"I am very glad to be umpiring alongside the other umpires selected, many of whom are friends through netball circles."

While in Hobart, there is a goal for Smedley and he hopes to bring it back to home soil.

"I have specific things in my umpiring that I am working on currently," Smedley said.

"The National Netball Championships allows me to umpire, receive feedback and reflect on my performance before implementing that feedback within a short time frame. As an umpire, this is one of the aspects of a tournament styled competition.

"It is also great to be able to bring these learnings back to SA, I mentor and coach umpires both in the Adelaide Metro Division and across our Netball SA affiliated associations, this experience will add to my tool box in that role too.

"The National Netball Championships is an opportunity that does not come around often so I am looking to make the absolute most out of the week to refine my umpiring."

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