World-class: Netball umpire Sasha McLeod, left, pictured with Central Pulse's Ameliaranne Ekenasio during a recent ANZ Premiership game. PICTURE: MICHAEL BRADLEY

Queenstown netball umpire Sasha McLeod’s just been given World Netball’s biggest seal of approval.

McLeod, 49, who started blowing the whistle about 2008, has been endorsed as an International Umpire Awardee, a status she’ll hold till April, 2027.

It means she can be selected to umpire Tests, the world championships and Commonwealth Games, for example.

‘‘It’s pretty exciting,’’ she says.

To make the grade, the former international orienteering competitor had to seek out opportunities all over the country to progress through the five national levels required to become ‘International Talent Identified’, which happened for her in 2018.

At that level, umpires can control lower-level international games during which they’re assessed by two people at every game on set criteria.

If they meet the standard at every game, they can receive the International Umpire Award.

McLeod says it’s been a huge personal commitment, one made possible by her ‘‘support system’’.

‘‘Especially my husband, Bruce, he’s really stepped up to help me achieve this.’’

The mum of three’s also been on the ANZ Premiership umpire panel since 2017 — she’s just pulled up her 50th game there — and last July was appointed by World Netball to umpire at the Oceania Netball World Cup qualifiers in Suva, Fiji.

She’s also still coaching and umpiring locally.

The international endorsement will see her head off to the World Youth Commonwealth Games, in ‘Trinbago’ — the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago — in August, but it also means she can now coach international umpires.

‘‘I obviously won’t be doing it [umpiring] forever, so … I’m also quite grateful it’s opened some doors for me in that area as well.

‘‘It’s a big passion for me to impart my knowledge to other people.’’

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