BY PATIENCE LEPHOGOLE
One of Botswana’s own netball technical officials, Neo Gwafila-Bulayani has been appointed as the new International Netball Federation (INF) Regional Officiating Coordinator (ROC) for the Africa Region.
The appointment comes into effect in January 2019 and will run for a term of two years, and she takes after South African Isabel du Piesanie who has been residing in the office.
Speaking in an interview with Sunday Standard, a delighted Gwafila-Bulayani said the achievement is a result of patience and hard work.
“I’m very happy! I feel amazed at the confidence that the INF has shown on me and my work around Netball,” she gushed.
“I have been a volunteer in this sport for over 10 years as an Administrator, and in much recent years, I picked up an interest in technical work and was appointed Head of Netball Operations for the Netball World Youth Cup in 2017.”
“I gained a lot of experience and insight into the technical work of netball during this appointment. When it came to an end, I figured, I can further contribute to the running and progress of Netball through this role, as umpiring is one of my key interest areas,” she added.
She further highlighted that during the NWYC2017, she was responsible for the welfare and upkeep of all the appointed Match Officials for the world cup, an opportunity which gave her a sneak preview of her current role.
Asked on her next plans, Gwafila-Bulayani said “My plan is to work creatively towards getting African Match Officials (umpires) professional growth and get them to international appointments.”
“My work is cut out for me as there is a lot of ground to be covered. My role will be supporting the African netballing nations’ umpires to progress and gain their ranking and international assignments,” she narrated.
Gwafila-Bulayani went on to say she intends to work closely with Africa Netball and INF to achieve her mandate. “My biggest plan is to improve the number of umpiring uptake for women. Generally, netball has more male umpires than women, as is the case in Botswana and I intend to change this.”
She further added that her other area of interest is to bring the women back to the sport through umpiring.
“I will draw up a plan of action in the New Year when this role commences, and it’s a plan I will work flat out in the next 2 years to achieve. I will be working closely with the INF so I hope we all achieve the results we set out to achieve as a sport,” she explained.
“My plan will take off from the outgoing ROC, Ms. Isabel du Piesanie of South Africa. But all in all, we will be working on the current analysis of umpiring in Africa as our point of departure to be able to map the next 2 years of my term,” she added.
Gwafila-Bulayani‘s duties include supporting the INF International Umpiring Manager to lead international umpiring, working closely with International Umpire Award (IUA) to facilitate the pathway to international umpiring, International Talent Identified (ITID) and the IUA Testing Panel (ITP) with interaction with INF Members and Regions.
“This is a very challenging role as the Africa Match Officials compete for the international assignments with all the other MOs from the other regions, so we need to work really hard to put up our competitive front to get them to world class standard,” she highlighted.
On giving advice to aspiring ROC’s, Gwafila-Bulayani had this to say “Keep working hard at the game; and open up your selves to international appointments. Most of the time these positions are out there for the taking, but we don’t try our luck, or we don’t align ourselves to fit the positions.”
On how she managed to get the role, Gwafila-Bulayani had this to say; “The position of Regional Officiating Coordinator is advertised on the International Netball Federation (INF) website for all technical people to apply. This is open to all people in the respective region.”
“There was an advert for ROC for all regions; I applied for the Africa one. The people in this role support the INF’s International Umpiring Manager to lead international officiating. With the support of Botswana Netball Association (BONA) and Africa Netball (AN), I got the role,” a delighted Gwafila-Bulayani concluded.