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Umpires test their mettle

ONE of the top bowls umpires in the country was in Gisborne last week taking the next batch of budding local umpires through their paces.

Michael Johnson, chairman of the Bowls New Zealand umpire committee, flew into town to run the assessments for five local umpires.

After familiarising themselves with the nearly 800-pages of rules and regulations, it all came down to a final test of a dozen game scenarios.

Three umpires passed their Level 1 exams accrediting them to umpire local events, while Mark Bain completed his Level 2 accreditation allowing him to officiate national-level events.

Johnson, who regularly attends sessions like the one at Kahutia bowling club last week, said it was important to foster umpires in centres across the country to continue to grow and develop the game.

“They've done a lot of training up to now and this is really the cherry on top,” he said.

“Having an umpire in metro and regional centres is really important. It's the umpires who make sure it all runs smoothly in the background.”

He said it was always a fun occasion to fly out and be part of celebrating the successes of new umpires. A Level 1 umpire who passed last week was one of the first to go through a new online education program, designed in response to Covid-19.

Johnson said it was exciting to see how successful the launch of the online learning had been, which was highlighted by all the umpires passing their assessments.

President of the Gisborne East Coast Umpires association Noel Dunn said it was exciting to learn from one of the top umpires in the country.

After completing reaccreditation of his Level 1 umpiring earlier in the week, he said it was surprising how detailed the rules can be.

Wearing a toolbelt that included a homemade measuring gauge to handle the sometimes ultrafine gaps between bowls, he said their role as umpires is usually to resolve disputes.

Umpires are typically in charge of several lanes on a green and are called upon when players can't agree on the outcome of an end (each round of bowls).

He said the game had locally been expanding rapidly, and having a new cohort of umpires just before summer was perfect timing.

“It's no longer an old man's game. We've got people from school age right on up.”

spotting the jack: Kym Brown checks the gap while Umpire Michael Johnson looks on. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell