Umpire state of mind

2016-06-15 06:00
Thembi Mlotshwa addresses her unbeaten Alexandra High School first netball team during a recent match against St Anne’s.                  PHOTO: ian carbutt

Thembi Mlotshwa addresses her unbeaten Alexandra High School first netball team during a recent match against St Anne’s. PHOTO: ian carbutt

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ALEXANDRA High School teacher Thembi Mlotshwa has helped lift the school to the top of the netball pile in Pietermaritzburg.

On a personal level, she has attained even greater success and recently managed the South African U18 team on their tour of New Zealand.

It has been anything but an overnight success for Mlotshwa.

“It started at a very young age, when I was in primary school,” she said.

“I played in high school and at tertiary level I played for KZN, but that was as far as I could go. After that, I started teaching and coaching.”

In those early days, Mlotshwa identified Sonny Boy Ndlovu as an important mentor in her growth within the sport.

“I learnt a lot from him,” she said.

While she has made her mark coaching Alex, it’s Mlotshwa’s umpiring that has been taking her places.

“Especially now, at national level, my focus has totally shifted from coaching. It’s just about umpiring the whole time. I am also grading umpires at national level.

“My coaching is at school level, but otherwise it’s just umpiring and umpiring. Sonny Boy had a lot of influence on me, because he was a top umpire.”

When she began teaching, Mlotshwa was “umpiring at low levels”, but people began to encourage her to take it more seriously, because they saw she had potential to go places with it.

“I did umpiring for fun, then it became something that I wanted to be good at and improve myself.”

Since she put her mind to it, she has continued to rise through the various ranks and today, Mlotshwa is a highly ranked and highly regarded umpire. But she wants to take it even higher.

“I’m sitting on a B-plus grading at national level. I want to get my A this year. I’m going for my A grade. There is no doubt in my mind. That’s my main focus this year.

“It will mean I am the top umpire in KZN at schools’ level. I am the top umpire at the moment at B-Plus.”

An A grade will mean Mlotshwa will be able it umpire at any level. And while her skills in that department take her places, she continues to learn more about the game, which she then passes on to the girls at Alex.

The results have been incontrovertibly outstanding.

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