Aleisha Neuman: from turf to teaching

March 2, 2022

‘Skippy’ to her friends, renowned hockey umpire on the international circuit, Aleisha Neuman has risen through the ranks swiftly to the elite level of umpiring, culminating at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020.

Aleisha started her umpiring career at an early age. She would be playing in one age group at a tournament and, when her matches were over, she would pick up the whistle and umpire younger age group matches. This willing attitude swiftly opened the door to other opportunities.

‘I received an email one day inviting me to umpire at a national U15 tournament and at that point I realised it could be more than just helping out. I got my international badge in 2014 at an event in South Africa.’

For Aleisha, the highlights so far have been plentiful. in 2019 she was the first female to umpire a men’s international. It is something she says she will hold close to her heart. ‘Once you are the first, everyone else is second, third, fourth,’ she says.

She also umpired her first Olympic Games in Tokyo. ‘Every game at the Olympics was amazing and I felt so privileged to be there. Walking out for that first game with Ayanna (McLean) was brilliant. But also, the Australian League Final, which I umpired with Lisa Roach. It was amazing to be walking out with such an umpiring legend and it was so special because it was her last Australian League Final and my first.’

As a head of year in a large, multi-ethnic school, many of the skills of umpiring are transferred into the teaching environment. Setting boundaries, ensuring that those same boundaries of behaviour are adhered to and communication are the three main areas that Aleisha highlights.

‘We are a multicultural school community, so skills of understanding different cultures and understanding the way that people interact with each other are really important skills.’

Aleisha shares her experiences with her students and colleagues and spends time talking to them about the opportunities that she has had through her sports participation.

‘This year I will be travelling to Holland and Spain for the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup and then across to England for the Commonwealth Games. For them, at the moment, travelling to other parts of the world is such a huge concept because we have been restricted for so long. So just in that alone, I have a chance to jump on an international flight.

‘But bigger than that, it is the friends you make around the world. Some of my best mates are from other countries and we keep up by WhatsApp and there is such a family aspect at a tournament. I can’t explain it, but the opportunity to see so much, explore so much and learn so much has now come back to my classroom.’



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