Netball umpires in crisis

January 11, 2017
Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) sports officer, Sylvester “Chris” Campbell, demonstrates a new netball signal to Primary School coaches.

The slow pace at which Jamaica, a global netball power, has been producing international netball umpires is alarming, chairman of the Jamaica Umpire Training and Certification Committee, (UTCC), Sylvester Campbell, has said.

"I am concerned that we don't have a greater influx of umpires that are being streamlined for international awards," he told STAR Sports.

"But, bear in mind that international umpires are an elite group of umpires and, therefore, it is really the top-of-the-line umpires who get into this group through hard work."

Campbell, an umpire for more than 30 years, a decade of which was spent on the international scene, is rated as one of top netball officials in the world.

Jamaica currently has two other accredited international umpires in Dave Brown and Terrence Peart.

Brown officiated in the final of last year's World Cup in Sydney, Australia, while Peart has worked at the Commonwealth Games.

Although saying the UTCC has been trying to improve the quality umpiring in local leagues, the tough-talking Campbell lashed national netball administrators over the years for not leveraging Jamaica's position in the global game with the establishment of a system to churn out more world-class officials.

"For a nation that is fourth in the world, we could have more umpires in this international pool. We have to settle down and get some more umpires trained for them to be identified and get awards," he said.

Campbell and Dalton Hinds became the first Jamaicans to officiate in the final of a World Championships - the 2007 edition in Auckland, New Zealand.

Added to the small number of internationally qualified umpires is the quality of recruitment, which Campbell argued is affected by lack of attractive salaries. According to him, umpires in the system are underpaid.

"People prefer to coach because they see it as a source of income but we need to make it (umpiring) more lucrative so that people will want to umpire."

Campbell noted that his association has identified a few individuals who are currently officiating in the Berger Elite League, who it feels have displayed the right qualities to become international umpires.

"The whole intent of this elite league is to produce more of the high-end umpires because this is where our biggest games are. This league will give them the practice to be good enough," Campbell said.

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