Marion Johnson-Hurley continues to fly the Barbadian flag high after being endorsed for another four years as an International Netball Federation umpire.
Johnson-Hurley who became an IUA member in 1998 was retained on July 13 while officiating at the just concluded World University Championship in Florida.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY, the 52-year-old explained how happy and honoured she was to be given yet another opportunity to continue doing what she loves.
However, being the lone IUA member from Barbados, Johnson-Hurley said it was her desire to see other umpires from the island making it on to the international scene. In fact, she said it was long overdue and believed it was time that Barbadian umpires got a lot more exposure where officiating games were concerned.
“I think that we need to push some more umpires and not that we weren’t pushing them before, but as I said the main challenge is the fitness test and sometimes it is really hard but you have to tell yourself as an umpire and just work hard to pass the fitness test at the international level. I personally had to train really hard to get myself ready for competition.
“The other challenging thing we have in Barbados is getting exposure to games because we don’t have enough games to push the umpires to that level. The recent under-sixteen Caribbean netball championship is the only competition where you find the umpires get exposure and that is not good enough. We need to give them that opportunity to go to the next level,” said Johnson-Hurley, who began umpiring around the age of 16.
All is not lost, though, as she made special mention of a few upcoming umpires, including Makeba Clarke who she said could definitely make an impact on the international scene.
“Makeba is young and we need to give her that opportunity to go further and don’t hold her back because that can hamper her and she may get turned off. So if we push her, she can go far and I have seen her and she has the ability to go a long way,” explained Johnson-Hurley, who continues to soar on the international scene after being approved to serve on the International Testing Panel as a cadet for the second time.
She is also the only Barbadian currently on the testing panel and is involved in identifying talent and recommending umpires to officiate at international games.
Not forgetting her journey and those that have helped her along the way, Johnson-Hurley made special mention of Vaneisha Cadogan and Deborah Lynch-Theobalds, two of her mentors.
Being one of the oldest and longest serving international umpires in the world after receiving her badge back in 1998, Johnson Hurley also focused on the level of umpiring in Barbados and said Barbados could do a lot better but at the same time was pleased to see so many young persons showing a keen interest in umpiring. She gave special mention to the president of Barbados Association of Netball Umpires, Carmeta Douglin, for encouraging those young persons to get involved.
“I think that some of us don’t understand the importance of doing the things that we should do without being watched and that is one of our biggest problems. It is not that our umpires can’t umpire, but sometimes they wait for you to look at them for them to show you what they can do when persons like myself are observing and that is when you see a different standard of umpiring which is not right. But this is how we humans behave, we only perform when being observed. It is not that they can’t do the job because I think a few of them can do the job.
“Also I just hope the much younger ones stick with it because it can be very challenging, especially comments from the side. People tend to pull you down but it is really a pleasure to see them there trying at an early age and I hope they stick with it,” she noted.
Johnson-Hurley wears many hats and among them is being a physical education teacher at Lawrence T Gay Primary and a proud mother of two boys, Derion the eldest who was part of the victorious Orange Three Pinelands team that won the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association’s Premier League title this year, and Deroni who plays badminton, basketball and is currently overseas in St Kitts and Nevis with the national under-16 football team. She admitted the journey has not been easy but one she has managed to overcome with the support of those around her especially husband Derick ‘Billy’ Hurley, also a former national football player.
Johnson- Hurley also relived her most proudest moments as an umpire back in 2006 in Melbourne Australia when New Zealand played the hosts in a final.
“Unlike my first final I was more relaxed because I was more prepared, more exposed and I felt that I did an excellent job which took me to the next level. I felt that if I can do it so can any other Barbadian. I recall after the game people came to me with my Barbados flag, giving me hugs, and that is what you need as an umpire. “
Another memorable achievement for her was officiating at the World Youth Games final in Fort Lauderdale between New Zealand and England. Also, at the World Championships final in Jamaica when New Zealand played Australia.
Looking ahead to the future Johnson-Hurley made it clear she had no intention of quitting anytime soon and was looking forward to officiating at the upcoming AFNA Youth Qualifiers in St Maarten from August 22 to 28.