This weekend sees the Under 21 Squads of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland battle it out for a place at the 2017 World Youth Netball Cup (WYNC) in Gaborone, Botswana. England Netball is delighted that Gary Burgess, James Thomas, Kate Stephenson and Sarah Watts have been selected on to the Officiating Panel with Alison Davies from Wales making up the quintet of umpires.
England Netball spoke with the umpires prior to their departure later today. Looking forward to the tournament Kate Stephenson said: “It is fantastic to be able to umpire young athletes with so much passion for their sport and country where they will put everything on the line to qualify.
“I have umpired this age group before at Netball Europe but not for WYNC Qualifiers so I am excited to see what that added motivation brings to the game”.
Super League umpire James Thomas went on to say: “I’m thrilled to have been selected and it’s really exciting to be able to umpire talented athletes from across the Netball Europe region. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the things it will bring”.
Sarah Watts who umpired the 2013 Final of the World Youth Netball Cup in Glasgow said: “I’m delighted to have been invited to umpire.
“Maintaining the standard required is always hard but I’m extremely fortunate to be able to work alongside umpiring colleagues who are very supportive and mentors who give such helpful and useful advice.
“I’m looking forward to umpiring some competitive games this weekend”.
Reflecting on the injury that prevented him travelling to the Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand, Gary Burgess said: “It will be nice to get back out on court following some time away.
“In the 15 years I’ve been umpiring I can’t recall ever being injured”.
Speaking about the tournament Burgess said: “I have always enjoyed umpiring the home nations as the matches often go goal for goal and the intensity is always high.
“I started my international journey with Netball Europe in 2007 and without these experiences I wouldn’t be the umpire I am today”.
There will be further English involvement at this tournament with International Umpire Assessors Judith Groves and Joanna Kelly on hand to ensure the umpires are put through their paces and provide the best service possible.
England Netball wishes all of the officials the best of luck.
The World Youth Netball Cup Qualifiers run from 7th to 9th October at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.