AS A player and umpire, Maddie O’Nial has shown a remarkable commitment to netball.
Not only is Maddie playing for Kangaroo Flat’s B-grade team in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League, she umpires A-grade matches for the club.
Sponsorship from Fosterville Gold Mine is a huge plus for netball umpires across the AFL Central Victoria region and enabled several coaching programs for netball umpires to be run.
“There is a great pathway in netball, not just for players, but also umpires,” Maddie said.
An A-badged umpire since 2018, Maddie has officiated at national junior championships and also in the Victorian Netball League.
“Netball has played a big part in my life since I was six,” Maddie said.
“I would go along to watch my two older sisters play and wanted to be just like them and play netball.
“I have loved the game from a young age,” Maddie said of a netball journey which began in the Echuca District Netball Association and then with Kyabram in the Goulburn Valley FNL.
Maddie first took up umpiring as a 14-year-old in 2007.
“I first started doing it for a little extra pocket money and really enjoyed umpiring.
“There was a lot of support from the club and the league.
“Being an umpire has a lot of challenges, but also lots of opportunities.”
Although she was studying in Melbourne, Maddie would return to Kyabram to play and umpire.
“The support from family and friends is incredible. I could not have done what I have without them.”
There have been various tournaments Maddie has umpired at across the state.
“To be selected for the VNL was a big highlight.”
After a break because of lockdown, the VNL is expected to re-start this Wednesday night.
Maddie was selected to umpire at this year’s national under-19 and under-17 championships.
“Both were called off because of COVID, but may still go ahead later on in the year.”
Away from the netball court, Maddie works as a nuclear medicine technologist in Echuca Hospital’s radiology department.
Maddie joined Kangaroo Flat FNC for the 2020 season which was called off.
“It’s a great club to be with,” Maddie said.
Her links to the Kangaroos were forged through her time working at Bendigo Hospital.
“A few of the girls who play at Kangaroo Flat were working in the same department at the hospital.
“They asked about me going along to try-outs, which I did, and really enjoyed.
“Jayden Cowling (A-grade coach) has so much knowledge and passion for the game.”
When she plays for the Kangaroos, Maddie is usually in the GA (goal attack) bib and then later switches to blowing the whistle, calling contact, and much more.
Written by Nathan Dole.