Netball umpire’s road to stardom

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Shelly Guni, Sports Reporter

There have been many prominent figures who have been rejected but used this obstacle as motivation.

Another example is the South Africa based netball umpire, Gabriel Simion who was rejected by his own until he finds home in South Africa where he is now regarded as one of the best umpire.

“I started umpiring in 2009 when l was at the university of North West in South Africa. In 2012 that’s when l wrote my level one umpiring course and l passed up to level 3,” Simion told H-Metro.

“ln 2013 l came back to Zimbabwe since I had finished with my studies. l engaged the Zimbabwe Netball Association and I was assessed.

“ZINA was impressed with my performance and I was given the licence to officiate league games but it was not easy for me to be welcomed by other senior umpires who felt threatened by my standard way of umpiring so it was fight after fight.

“So in 2014 I returned to South Africa to pursue my umpiring career as well as furthering my studies.”

But unlike many, Simion never gave up, in fact, he was motivated to keep pushing.

Now he is one of the highest graded umpire in Zimbabwe and Africa at large, holding grade A.

Last year he raised the country’s flag high by becoming the first Zimbabwean to officiate at the South Africa’s Telkom Netball league.

He also officiated at the Varsity Cup in South Africa.

“In Zimbabwe I only officiated for a year. Everything that was happening motivated me a lot because that is when I knew that I was doing something good.”

Although his dream is to see himself officiating at the international, Simion who recently graduated with a Masters degree in Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting is aware of the mammoth task which lies ahead of him as he has to now balance between work and netball.

“My work demands a lot but I work hard to balance both work and netball.

“I’m looking to be at the international stage, for the past years there have not been umpires who represents Zimbabwe during international games because we don’t meet the criteria to umpire there.

“So from here I’m going to be tested for International Talent Identified Umpire (ITID)

“For me to be a qualified international umpire I will have to go through these stages up to International Umpire Award (IUA) but It takes time, a lot of work has to be done unfortunately you only go there by invitation so I must continue working hard.”

However, Simion said he is willing to conduct clinics and courses in Zimbabwe.

“I’m also a tutor. l do conduct umpiring clinics and also grading of umpires.

” Here in South Africa I do grading and at one point I also approached the authorities there(Zimbabwe) about the grading of umpires but nothing materialised.”

“South Africa is far much developed in terms of netball in Africa so I wanted to use the system we use in here,” he said.