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Netball - 28. June 2012.

Netball calls on AFL umpire expert to review pathway

Netball Australia has announced that respected umpire coach and educator David Levens will lead a review of netball's national umpire pathway, commencing 1 July 2012.

Levens is well known for his work in the field of sports officiating and education, education and training and community development.  He spent 10 years at the AFL where he had statewide responsibilities for umpiring recruitment, training and development, and retention of umpires in New South Wales, then as AFL Umpires Coach where he had responsibility for the training and development of the national panel of AFL umpires and assessment of on-field performances. Over the last few years he has facilitated the delivery of the national AFL Umpire Coach Professional Development Program and been a member of Cricket Australia's Umpire High Performance Panel.

Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer said a review was timely, with increased expectations of umpires' performance accompanying the growth of the sport and the need to ensure that the number of umpires at the grassroots level can meet the needs of the sport.

"Netball in Australia has undergone a significant period of change since the introduction of the ANZ Championship.  The Championship has resulted in greater levels of professionalism in all aspects of the game and while there have been greater levels of investment in improving the pathway for athletes and coaches, little has been done so far in the area of umpire development," Palmer said.

Levens will consult with netball umpires, umpires' coaches and the broader netball community via a range of activities including forums, emails, surveys and one-on-one consultation, as part of his brief to articulate netball's aspirations for umpiring in Australia.

Levens said that his work across a range of sports, including the AFL, cricket, bowls, shooting and motor sports, has led him to a passionate interest in environments that lead to retention of umpires.

"Often the attention in officiating is looking at the first step only, or looking at the first step with particular emphasis: that is, we can't get people, we need more people.

"But, be it a footy club, netball club or Glenlyon general store, what keeps people in their roles is the environment: it's a good place to be, a good place to operate in.  When umpires go to umpire matches, it has to be a good environment - absolutely it can be challenging, but is it a good place to be? I'm particularly interested in what's done around the sport in terms of retention."

Palmer said that Levens' work in reviewing the current umpire pathway will assist in determining the priorities for development, articulate the high performance culture of netball umpiring and assist the sport in allocating the necessary resources to achieve the desired outcomes.
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