‘Perfect game’ elusive

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Centurion . . . Tokanui umpire Kristie Simpson celebrates umpiring 100 national league netball matches with former international umpires Alison Cormack (left) and Colleen Bond (right). PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY LAURA OVERTON - NETBALL SOUTH.

 

Despite having umpired 100 national league matches, Kristie Simpson is still aiming for “that perfect game”.

“The motivation to keep going..it’s that perfect game eluding me,” Simpson said.

She brought up her century during the ANZ Premiership match between the Steel and the Pulse on Saturday.

Despite it being an “awesome” milestone, Simpson played down her achievement.

“I’m the type of person where it’s another game – it’s what I do.

“It’s not about me – I’m there to do my piece as well as I can.”

The 100 matches were from the ANZ Premiership and the former ANZ Championship, between New Zealand and Australia.

She is the second person to achieve the accolade, behind Jono Bredin.

In her 10 years in the elite umpiring squad, she had umpired three matches she would never forget, Simpson said.

The most gruelling was an ANZ Championship playoff final between the Mystics and the Magic.

“It was a tight battle game was incredibly challenging. It was a really tough game behind.”

The second was the match between the Steel and Tactix just days after the Steel was involved in a van crash in which players were injured.

“It was so emotional. You really feel for them because you do know them.

“Girls were emotional before the game began and the Steel went on to bring their Beko team on and win – it really stands out.”

The third very memorable match was after two months away from the sport due to lockdown.

Getting back on the court in June to umpire a match between the Magic and the Mystics was a real lift, she said.

“Once we got back into it .. from going through the protocols and the hard work – it was an exciting, magical feeling.”

Training to be an umpire was no different from training to be an athlete, Simpson said.

It took dedication to work on her fitness, vision testing, recovery and game play, she said.

She grew up in Tokanui, started umpiring at primary school and was guided by former international umpire Colleen Bond.

She began umpiring at the Menzies Netball Centre and moved to Netball Eastern Southland when she needed harder games.

Former international umpire Alison Cormack passed Simpson for her Centre Practical Badge in 2000.

Bond and Cormack had played a big part of her umpiring career, she said.

“They’ve been absolutely huge supporting me.”

Simpson has umpired at the Commonwealth Games, Netball World Cup, international test matches and Super Club.