Nelson's international hockey umpire Lani Jackman is setting her sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after officiating in New Zealand's home test series the summer. Photo: Supplied.

Lani takes charge

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Lani Jackman says it would have been a wise investment for her family to buy a house at the Nelson Hockey Turf because she spent so much of her childhood there.

Both her mother and grandmother played hockey and now the 26-year-old has turned her lifelong love affair with hockey into an international umpiring career.

Lani recently officiated in three tests of the Black Sticks series against Malaysia, in Stratford last month.

Lani has umpired 10 tests, all on New Zealand soil, and says she gets a thrill out of being part of the game she loves at the top level.

“It’s always a challenge, the game is moving so fast now and there’s so much to keep an eye on, but I really loved it.”

Lani started umpiring in Nelson as a 13-year-old.

“I used to play, and as it was in those days, every team needed to umpire a game so I thought I’d put my hand up and give it a go.

“After the game (the players) all seemed pretty happy and I didn’t get any abuse, so I felt like I did well.”

Lani played representative hockey for Nelson at the Under-13 girls Collier Trophy, but the following year she returned as an umpire.

After umpiring the Collier final in her second year, she progressed through the grades and is now a regular at National Hockey League level. Time in Tauranga and Hong Kong ensured she’d got a varied taste of the hockey lifestyle.

“I’m always learning and I’m ok with knowing that we aren’t going to get every call correct, you can just do the best you can and put yourself in the best position to see each play.”

Lani says the aim is to go to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 and then the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. She says being in her mid-20s she has the time to achieve those dreams if the passion and desire remains.

Hockey continues to be one of the best sports in terms of providing a pathway for ex players to rise up the ranks.

Most umpires progress through national age-group tournaments before taking on National League duties, before the opportunities for international games arrive.