MENTORING is a key aspect of the Hampden league's approach to maintaining, recruiting and developing netball umpires.
Clubs provide one umpire per game each weekend, from 13 and under competition through to the top senior grade.
Hampden league board member Josie Logan runs the umpiring portfolio.
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Logan said plans to engage and encourage umpires had been scuttled in 2021 due to different state government coronavirus lockdowns.
"We have had a couple of things in place this year. We had two A-badged umpires coming from Melbourne to do a discussion session and also some mentoring on a Saturday," she said.
"It was organised for back in May but unfortunately we got shut down and they couldn't come and Ann Castles from Netball Victoria was meant to be coming down this Friday night and doing a rules discussion with our league and unfortunately that's been shut down too.
"From a league's perspective, we're trying to see what mentors we have available in our region, and there are a few, and we're also trying to put them out on Saturdays."
Umpires' experience levels differ across the Hampden league.
Only one umpire - Portland open grade coach Lauren Hockley - has an A-badge, which is one tier below the AA-badge needed to officiate Super Netball games.
Logan is among the B-badge officials within the Hampden competition and there are others with C-badges. Getting umpires to rise up the badge ranks is imperative.
"We have a few umpires at B-badge level and we have one umpire in our league at A-badge level but there's been a real shortfall of umpires coming through from C-badge to B-badge," Logan said.
"I think it is because they have missed a whole year of umpiring and not having the opportunity to be mentored enough, to get to that next level."
Hampden, like other leagues across Victoria, lost umpires to different interests after the 2020 season was wiped out due to the pandemic.
Logan though said it was in a better position than most.
"Most clubs across the Hampden league have done pretty well getting umpires considering there has been a massive shortage of them right across the state," she said.
"There's probably a lot of umpires who had the year off last year and then thought 'that's enough, I don't want to do this (umpire) anymore'.
"We have lost quite a few umpires getting towards the end of their careers. Some clubs have been scratching for umpires at the last minute but have always managed to get someone to do it."
Logan said netball umpiring ranks faced similar issues to football officials.
"You find a lot of junior who take up umpiring," she said. "You actually get paid to umpire so sometimes that's a good incentive for them.
"It is difficult to retain those junior umpires because when they finish school they move away to uni."
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