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A Bench Official’s passion for the game

The ability to prolong her involvement in a game she loves and chance to meet like-minded people were driving factors behind Anne Harrison’s step onto Netball’s officials’ bench.

Harrison, who has been on the officials’ bench during the Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Netball Championships in Nelson this week, said Netball had long been her passion and being called on as an official a real highlight.

She started out as a player – remembering well her first “freezing” trip to the Deep South for the South Island Secondary School Championships in Invercargill – before gaining her New Zealand Umpires’ badge at the age of 40.

“It’s something I’d wished I done earlier,” she said of her time with whistle in hand. “I wish I’d been younger and got involved with umpiring but got involved with umpiring but it got me thinking. What do I do when I can’t umpire and play anymore?”

She found her answer on the bench, as an official.

“I started my training in Christchurch and worked my way through the Zone before I got my national badge,” Harrison said.

Since then she has acted as a statistician at the 2007 World Championships in Auckland and a bench official at a number of tournaments and international Tests.

“Every role that I’ve done, I just love it,” she said. “It’s challenging and it is fun and you meet great people – people with the same passion.”

Harrison implored others who loved the game and wanted to be more involved as a bench official, to contact their Netball Centre.

“You just need to ask the question,” she said. “Your local netball area will have a mentor or system set up to get you going.”

Harrison said staying involved in Netball as an official was a “privilege” she hoped to continue for some time yet.

She was looking forward to being on the job during the first test between the World Champion Silver Ferns and their trans-Tasman rivals in Christchurch at Horncastle Arena on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a real buzz for me,” she said. “I sat in the crowd in Christchurch when they had the worlds in 1999. I was just a spectator and remember thinking I want to be more involved. I didn’t know how but finally I’ve worked my way to be involved and I just love it.”