KERYN Rae had never played a team sport before her then eight-year-old daughter Amy joined the Tingara Netball Club.
Motivated by a desire to lend a helping hand, Mrs Rae immediately set about learning the game and joined the club committee.
Fast forward to 2017 and Mrs Rae is now in her eighth year as Tingara’s umpire co-ordinator, a mammoth task for a club that boasts more than 450 members and 53 teams.
Every Saturday during the netball season, Mrs Rae arrives at Frank Gibson Park in time for the 8am fixtures and does not leave until the last game wraps up about nine hours later.
“It’s quite busy, every week we have to have an umpire for each team so making sure we have enough umpires rostered and trained up ready to go is quite challenging,” she said.
“But I love Saturdays; I love going around to see how all the games are going and how the umpires are progressing each week.
“Amy (now 16) is also really involved and I enjoy running from court to court and bumping into each other throughout the day.”
Tingara Netball Club nominated Mrs Rae for Community Newspaper Group’s Service to Sport award, calling her an “indispensable member and volunteer” who is “kind and soft spoken but firm and motivational and respected by all players, umpires and the Tingara community”.
Mrs Rae said finding umpires had become more challenging in recent years with many unwilling to put up with the increasing harassment from the sidelines.
“All the girls are so brave; I have to send them out in the rain and with people on the sidelines that at times are not very nice,” she said.
“It’s really hard for them, they get out there and they have a lot of decisions to make really quickly with all these people watching and you’re never going to please everybody.
“If I could ask one thing it would be to cut the umpires some slack.”