When prominent Wellington Bowls identity Dayle Jackson first got the award notification, she thought there might have been some mistake.
Jackson saw the email from Bowls New Zealand but wondered if she was really the intended recipient.
“I had to make sure I re-read it,” says Jackson. “You don’t expect things like this…there must be someone better.”
But there was no error, and Jackson had been recognised as the 2021 Summerset Bowls New Zealand Umpire of the Year.
“I’m still stunned by it,” admits Jackson. “I do it for personal development and enjoyment and because I love the sport. I’m not looking for an award.”
Jackson has dedicated most of her life to serving others. After being a representative level hockey player, she turned to refereeing, a pursuit throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Jackson’s career was in education and she was the long-time principal of Kelson school in Lower Hutt before her retirement in 2016.
She got into bowls “by chance”, heading along with a couple of friends to a learn to play day in the early 1990s. Jackson enjoyed it, but wanted to understand more.
“From a young age my parents had told us to learn the rules and laws of any game we play,” says Jackson. “I never forgot that.”
Jackson obtained a rulebook, then was directed to the umpire’s association, for six weeks of lectures, followed by an exam. That was enough - “I had met my purpose” – but Jackson was sent out for field work.
“I had learnt a lot, but then I discovered I enjoyed it a lot,” says Jackson.
Not only was umpiring fascinating – as she watched all kinds of players in action – but it helped her own play. It also assisted her when she later became a coach.
Jackson, who won a Wellington centre title in 2012, is still an active player but has a wide range of other re- sponsibilities. She is in her fourth term as Bowls Wellington president and is secretary of the Mirimar Bowling club and the Wellington Umpires Association, the latter a post she has held for 10 years. Jackson coaches the Wellington women’s representative team and junior women over the winter months.
Next year will mark two decades of umpiring. She officiated many of the big capital competitions this season, including Open tournaments, champion of champion events and the Prestige Pairs. Jackson takes on a men- toring role with new umpires and has contributed massively to the development and growth of the Wellington association. She was also honoured as Wellington Umpire of the Year for 2020-2021.
So what makes a good umpire?
“You need to know your laws and respond quickly to a call,” says Jackson. “It’s about working with the players, then getting out of the way. And you need to stay alert, sometimes you don’t get called for ages.”
Jackson gets to umpire a range of players, from elite New Zealand representatives to school kids.
“It’s always fun to work with new players,” says Jackson. “But whatever the level, if you do your job well then they will accept your decision.”
And despite her myriad responsibilities and posts, finding enough time in the day is never a problem.
“You step into things – there is always time,” says Jackson. “As a teacher you get used to 12-hour days so anything after that doesn’t really compare.”