James Matthews became the first Victorian in seven years to receive his AA badge following the 20/U International Tournament held in Canberra last month.
A former international player, Matthews has spent the past three years progressing through the Netball Victoria umpiring pathway.
The 30-year-old felt mixed emotions upon receiving the news that he had received his AA badge.
“I had spent a couple of years working towards that goal so then to finally hear the words that I had got it, I felt excited and relieved at the same time,” said Matthews.
After moving back to Victoria three years ago, Matthews came through the TID pathway at the Netball Victoria B Grade Camp in 2013. He then progressed into the B Grade Squad and umpired in the Victorian Netball League in his first year.
From there Matthews was selected into the Developing Umpires Program at Netball Australia, which is the first stage of the High Performance Pathway. His willingness to learn and improve saw him elevated to the Emerging Talent Program (2015/16) before taking part in the High Performance Program this year.
Matthews believes that he would not be in the position he is today without the success of the Netball Victoria Umpiring pathway.
“I can safely say that I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for the support from Netball Victoria,” said Matthews.
“From a development perspective, they have got a lot of programs in place to support the umpires in order to give them the best opportunity to progress through the pathway, and that has obviously resonated with the Victorian Netball League, and the access to the coaches and mentors that we have as well.”
The AA badge reflects excellence in umpiring, where professionalism, accuracy of decisions, reaction time between infringements and decisions, levels of communication and umpiring techniques are all given the closest possible scrutiny.
To find out more about Netball Victoria’s umpire pathway and how you can get involved, click here.
Photo credit: Grant Treeby