International umpire Leonard Masao proud to pave way for others

International umpire Leonard Masao proud to pave way for others

Leonard Masao is the only black international umpire in Africa and is dedicated to guiding aspiring umpires towards achieving similar success.

With an A grading plus level, indicative of the best performance in South Africa, Masao has earned recognition and holds the prestigious International Talent Identified Umpire qualification.

His journey from player to official underscores the potential for advancement within the field, as top performances can lead to opportunities to officiate in Europe. 

"The moment you start growing in your umpiring, you also need somebody on [a high] level that will speak the same language as you," said Masao.

"If you're still developing, yes, you can get other people, although I also have people that are not umpires and have no idea about netball, and those are my best mentors because they are very honest.

"You cannot push people to be mentored, and with mentoring, it is your personal choice that you make. If somebody wants me to mentor them, they'll put an effort. Other people may not want me to mentor them.

"I do have opportunities that I sometimes advertise on my social media accounts that, whoever wants to be mentored by me in South Africa must just say.

"I'm the only black international umpire at the moment, so it will also look very bad on me as far as what am I doing for my country, but people never came forward."

Masao, a full-time educator at a private school in Gauteng, shares how he has presided over some of the most significant competitions in global netball.

"This year I was lucky to be one of the umpires to implement the new rules at the Wales and Uganda test series, and last year I umpired the Africa Cup in Botswana, and before that I did the World Fast 5s in New Zealand," he added.

Regrettably, he could not participate in the 2023 Netball World Cup held in Cape Town due to insufficient paid leave days from his employers.

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