Following seven consecutive ANZ Championship Grand Final appearances, umpire Sharon Kelly’s retirement at the end of 2015 has opened up new opportunities for umpires across Australia; including Michelle Phippard, who this year umpired her first ANZ Championship Grand Final.
Phippard says being given the opportunity to umpire in the ANZ Championship’s pinnacle event is something she is very appreciative of.
“It is a huge honour to be given the Grand Final, and I was very grateful for the opportunity,” Phippard said.
“As umpires, we all work so hard towards appointment to the finals, and it is really lovely to be recognized for what you have achieved during the season.”
Phippard has been an ANZ Championship umpire since 2012, and is experienced at both a national and international level, umpiring the 2015 Netball World Cup, the 2014 Commonwealth Games and multiple Test and Quad Series since 2001.
It was a thrilling Grand Final between the Queensland Firebirds and NSW Swifts that she umpired on Sunday, coming down to the wire in extended extra-time.
“It was obviously an incredible match, but nothing less than you would ever expect from our players – they are continually raising the bar and it challenges us to do the same – so that we can allow them to play to the full extent of their athleticism and skill, within the bounds of the rules,” Phippard said.
“I certainly needed all of the tools in my box for that game – it had everything. But they are the games that make you appreciate what you have gained from all the hours of physical, mental and technical preparation you put in behind the scenes.”
“Michelle finished the final game of the ANZC season as she started – goal focussed, analytical and meticulous in her preparations, both on and off the court, equivalent to that of any elite athlete in the highest levels of competition each week,” National Umpire Coach Janelle Derrington said.
“She is always calm and cool under pressure, and highly professional in all her endeavours, all trade mark behaviours expected of the highest umpires in this country.
“We are incredibly proud of all the umpires who have given so much of themselves throughout the ANZC and Australian Netball League (ANL) this year, and particularly congratulate Michelle on being appointed to umpire the Grand Final of the ANZC.”
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