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South African umpire, Theresa Prince, became the first South African netball umpire to officiate 100 international matches on Monday 22 August at the Africa Netball World Cup Qualifiers in Pretoria. We caught up with Theresa and her netball peers to celebrate her career and this achievement.

Umpiring 100 international matches is a great achievement. Congratulations, how does it feel knowing you’ve umpired 100 matches?
The first thought that comes to mind is HOW BLESSED I AM. Blessed that I have inherited good genes and I can honestly say that I have always been injury free. The fact that I am the first South African umpire who has achieved this milestone makes it extra special.

Do you still remember your first international match as umpire? What happened? Who played?
I received my IUA (International Umpires’ Award – the highest award for umpiring Netball. It recognises a standard of elite performance and signifies the ability of an umpire to control international matches) in England and it was special to officiate my first international test in the UK, The English Roses versus The Silver Ferns. Game time… never settle for anything less than butterflies.

Your most memorable matches as umpire – international and local matches?
Every match I umpire is a piece of the final puzzle. It fills the holes in my umpiring career. It is the small pieces that creates the big picture. My international journey started in the Cook Islands at the u21 World Cup Tournament. This event will always be memorable to me.

How did you get into umpiring?
As a player our local club needed umpires and the youngsters were “kindly obliged” to attend an umpiring course. The rest is history.

Who’s been your inspiration in your career and has helped/guided you? Anyone you would like to thank?
In the netball community definitely Reg Sharp, or as I refer to him as Uncle Reg. Reg was one of the first gentlemen that received a SA A umpiring qualification in South Africa. He was my mentor on and off the court. He is the one person who always believed in me and encouraged me when the going got tough. Undoubtedly my very supportive husband, Deon and my two stunning sons, Taine and Ryan, without whom it would not have been possible.

Advice for aspiring or up and coming umpires?
Train hard, believe in yourself and the most important thing is to keep your feet firmly grounded. The road is long and winding but every step is worth your while.  Reach for the stars.

On umpiring her 100th international match, Netball South Africa President, Cecilia Molokwane said: “We as Netball South Africa are extremely proud of Theresa for achieving this magnificent milestone in her netball career. It’s highly motivating and shows that with dedication you can reach your goals and inspire others. We know that in netball the players are the most valuable asset, but without rules and officials to guide them in a match, the players will not have the right framework to showcase their talents. Over the years we’ve seen our players and coaches achieve great success on the international stage; adding our umpires to that mix makes us even stronger and that is inspirational as we grow the sport #TakingNetballBackToThePeople #MakingNetballFashionable.”

Fellow netball umpires and colleagues have also added their admiration to Theresa’s achievement.

Annie Kloppers: “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach. Theresa you have reached this goal!  Very proud of you.”

Marie-louw van der Merwe: “Congratulations Theresa Prince on your 100th International match.  What a well-deserved milestone to reach. You should be immensely proud. I have lovely memories of the good times we shared together. Enjoy the moment. I am wishing you many more matches to come.”

Janet Edeling: “Congratulations on reaching your 100th international match, what a milestone! I’ve had the privilege of umpiring alongside you for years and wish you all the best for what your netball (and other) future may hold.”

Maggie du Plessis: “C for Commitment. E for Endurance. N for Never give up. T for Timeless. U for Umpiring. R for Reason. Y for You’re phenomenal. That”s how I see you. Enjoy 100!”

Theo Moletsane: “Good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient and best things come those who don’t give up. Give yourself some credit for the days you made it when you thought you couldn’t.”

Tharina Opperman: “When you blew that whistle for the first time, you might have never dreamed that you would you start an international match with it for the 100th time! Charles Kettering – High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. You were constantly expecting better results from yourself and this paid off! Congratulations on this once in a lifetime achievement! Your umpire career is something any young umpire can aspire to!”

Salomé Britz: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit!’ Congratulations Theresa on achieving excellence! It is always a huge honour to share the court with you! Thank you for being such a great role model and friend!”

Some of Theresa Prince’s career highlights include umpiring at:
The Netball World Cup in Singapore (2011) and Sydney (2015)
The Netball World Youth Cup in the Cook Islands (2009) and in Glasgow (2013)
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (2014) and the Gold Coast (Australia 2018)
The Africa Netball Cup in Tanzania (2009) and Uganda (2017)
The World University Netball Championships in Cape Town (2012) and Uganda (2018)
The Constellation Cup, Australia vs New Zealand in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016
The Africa Netball World Cup Qualifiers  in Pretoria 2022

Theresa has also umpired at many local tournaments like the Telkom Netball League, the SPAR Madibaz Netball tournament, Wildeklawer tournament, SA Top Schools, the Sunridge Fast5 tournament, the Paarl Girls’ High finals and many club and school matches to name but a few.

Congratulations Theresa, we’re proud of you!