Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NZC: Inspired to Umpire – Vibhuti Patel’s Umpiring Journey

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Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket

Born and raised in Gujarat, India, cricket was always a big part of Vibhuti Patel’s life.

Patel’s father was a player, and she grew up being one of few girls playing street cricket with her neighbours.

Upon moving to New Zealand in 2008, Patel had lasered her focus in on settling into life in New Zealand and supporting her family.

Cricket quickly found its way back into Patel’s life when Sohum (Patel’s son) was born.

“Sohum was born to play the game – at just three-and-a-half years old he had already developed a love for cricket” said Patel.

“I quickly found myself wanting to get involved in the game but wasn’t sure how”.

It was the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup final between Australia and England in Christchurch that peaked Patel’s interest.

Attending the match with her family, Patel became fascinated by Umpire Kim Cotton in action.

“I was blown away – I thought it was awesome how she directed the match, and I couldn’t stop watching,” said Patel.

“Those thoughts sat in the back of mind until winter came around, I decided to investigate Umpiring.”

After contacting the CMCA Umpires Association, Patel started from scratch – learning the laws of cricket and working towards her Level 2 exam.

This resulted in Patel’s first appointment in January 2023, where she stood in a Premier Women’s game in Christchurch.

In her own words, the match was a “disaster”, making Patel reconsider whether umpiring was for her.

As if it were meant to be – Patel’s second appointment was with the Umpire who inspired her to start her journey, Kim Cotton!

“I couldn’t believe it, what is Kim Cotton doing here!” said Patel.

“That game completely changed my whole mindset – I learnt so much from Kim in just one day, and it inspired me to keep going.”

Since that match, Patel has made every post a winner.

Patel is now an accomplished Umpire with two seasons of Premier Women’s and Senior Men’s club matches under her belt.

This season she was brought onto NZC’s Aspiring Female Umpire Programme and has “learnt a great deal” from an experienced group of female Umpires.

Most recently she umpired at the New Zealand U19 Women’s Development Camp, as was Reserve Umpire at the recent Canterbury Magicians v Auckland Hearts Hallyburton Johnstone Shield fixture.

Next season, Patel will be preparing for her Level 4 exam and will also begin officiating Premier Men’s fixtures.

Patel shared a message to other females out there who may be considering Umpiring.

“There is so much support in New Zealand for females who want to begin Umpiring – so if you love your cricket, get in touch with your association!”

“You are giving back to your sport which is very satisfying, but the best part is the people you meet who share the same interests and passion.”

Patel thanks her husband, family, colleagues, and the Umpires & Scorers Association for their support in her journey thus far.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

Applications for NZC’s 2024/25 Aspiring Female Umpire Programme will open in June 2024.

For more information or to get involved in Umpiring, contact Eugene Sanders – NZC Community Umpire Manager at Eugene.Sanders@nzc.nz

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