Boy makes mark as top netball referee

By Gary Caffell

A 14-year-old Makoura College schoolboy is making big waves in the female-oriented sport of netball.

Not only is Te Kapua Haira turning out for Makoura in Netball Wairarapa's regional one competition, but on Saturday he also refereed at the same level for the very first time.

Ask Haira, a multi-talented sportsman, why he chose netball as his top winter sport and he will explain it was just a case of seeing it on television and deciding to have a crack at it.

That was a few years ago and once he was allowed to join a team he found himself enjoying the sport to the extent that the likes of rugby had to take a back seat, even if that meant taking a "ribbing"from those around him.

"I did get a bit of stick early on but it's not so bad now, I like all sports and this is the one I choose to play, that's about it."

Making it into Makoura College's premier side for this season was a huge thrill for Haira and he has thrived on the challenge of pitting himself against the province's best female talent.

He plays in defence and, under the expert tutelage of experienced coach Dayle Clarkson, he has fast come to grips with the tactics involved in keeping pressure on the opposition shooters.

"You have to be quite aggressive, you have to get stuck in."

Haira's involvement in refereeing was also a matter of chance more than intention.

He had gone to the canteen at the Colombo road courts for a quick snack, learned that applications for a refereeing course were being taken and decided to participate "just to see if I liked it".

Like it he did and there, too, he has proved himself a quick learner, progressing swiftly through the ranks to the point where he was appointed to control the Pioneer Blue v Hells Hot Shots regional one fixture on Saturday.

Not one to suffer too much from nerves, Haira was "absolutely rapt" with the way things panned out, saying the players on both sides had accepted his rulings in a positive manner. "Everybody was awesome, it was good fun."


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