Seventeen-year-old Georgina Bell has her sights on one day umpiring at the top level in netball and she is continuing to pull on all the right strings to make that happen.
The Southland Girls' High School pupil is regarded one of the country's most promising netball umpires and that was highlighted recently at a Netball New Zealand talent development camp.
She was one of 11 umpires who attended the camp and following five days of rigorous training and assessment she was singled out by being named the umpire with the best technique.
Bell was joined by another talented Southland Girls' umpire Gracey Farquharson at the camp in Cambridge.
The "best technique" recognition adds to a lengthy list of achievements for Bell, although her ever-growing CV hasn't come easily.
The girl from Rimu has poured countless hours into the sport of netball and she can be regarded one of the most dedicated teenagers going around in any sport in Southland at the moment.
She has umpired in many different tournaments and competitions, including the senior Southland wide league.
A highlight was being allocated the umpiring duties for the South Island Secondary Schools final this year.
Bell knows it can be a lonely place being a sporting official but she says the positives outweigh the negatives.
"You drive to the game alone, get abused for a game and then drive home alone again," she said with a laugh yesterday.
"It's good though, I still love it. One team always likes you."
Bell's commitment to netball doesn't stop at holding the whistle, she coaches other umpires, she coaches the Southland Girls' High School Year 10 Blue team, and she also plays herself for the SBHS senior B team.
This list of sporting tasks doesn't include the fact she is regarded a very talented equestrian rider as well.
There is little surprise that this year Bell was a finalist for the Contribution to Sport award at the Southland secondary school sports awards.
Bell concedes a Saturday at the netball courts for her takes a lot of planning to ensure she gets through all her required roles.
"Usually there is a lot of running between courts," she said.
"I'm there at 8(am) and usually I'm still there at 4.30. I have to sit down the night before and look at the draw and see that I'm playing here and I'm umpiring there, and where's my team I coach and then also I look at the umpires and where the umpires I coach are."
Bell said developing umpires in Southland were fortunate in the knowledge they could tap into. Her mentor is Colleen Bond.
"She's absolutely awesome," Bell said of Bond.
"I had a really good programme to come up through with the Invercargill Netball Centre and at the Southland-wide league being able to umpire with the likes of Bobbi Brown and Kristie Simpson. Those girls are amazing and it's cool to be exposed to that."
Bell will take a short break from her netball duties but as usual she will remain busy on the sporting front, this time preparing to take part in the annual Gold Rush multisport event in March.
- The Southland Times