Nelson Netball Youth Umpire of the Year


Year 9 student Vanessa Bell has been umpiring since Year 7 and she’s well on her way to achieving her future umpiring dreams.

Vanessa has been playing netball ever since she started school, and the role of umpire caught her eye early on. “I’ve always liked the idea of umpiring because it gives you an insight into the rules of the game and gives you more advantages in that way,” she said. “And I just really enjoyed it.”

When Vanessa first started umpiring for Nelson Netball, she was in Year 7 and umpired games for the Year 5 & 6 ‘futureFerns.’ Instead of moving up to umpiring for intermediate aged students, Vanessa was invited to skip a grade and move straight up to umpiring college aged teams. 

When asked how she found umpiring older players she replied, “It was kind of challenging because I was umpiring people older than who I am and they kind of shrugged off what I was saying, [telling me] ‘we’re older than you, we’re better than you,’ [but] I had the people who were running it, I guess they knew me and they trusted me to deal with it… and I had the other umpire who was doing it [with me], which was normally someone who was an advanced umpire, which was nice.”

Vanessa Bell being presented with the Nelson Netball Paki Paki Trophy for Youth Umpire of the Year 2022 — Image by: Supplied

A few weeks ago, fourteen year old Vanessa Bell was awarded the Nelson Netball Paki Paki Trophy for Youth Umpire of the Year, a trophy that is awarded to the most promising youth umpire, from the development, college or futureFERN squads. 

She said, “When I won the trophy, I felt proud and overwhelmed, I didn’t know why my Mum wanted me to stay for the prizegiving but when I heard my name I realized why.”

Vanessa credits her success to a few coaches at Netball Nelson who helped and inspired her to go further, along with her parents who helped push her as well.

In addition to winning the trophy, Vanessa has also been given the opportunity to become a ‘white T-shirt umpire,’  which she says is a ‘centre umpire.’ “[It] means I can go indoors and umpire clubs, which takes you higher into doing national stuff,” she said.

As well as umpiring, Vanessa still plays netball herself, being part of Nayland College’s junior girls netball. In the future, she hopes to go higher in umpiring. “I think it’s something different that not normally people do which is nice,” she commented. “[And I like] seeing the different ways that teams work out their tactics.”

Congratulations on a very well-deserved award Vanessa and we wish you all the best as you set out to achieve your goals!

By Sarah Luton