It’s been a brilliant week of squash at The World Games 2022, with fantastic matches, a passionate crowd and a number of countries achieving record finishes.
Ahead of today’s finals, we spoke with New Zealand’s refereeing duo Nicky McNaught and Heather Findlay, who have been officiating in Birmingham this week.
For McNaught, who began refereeing after attending junior events with her children, The World Games represents the first time she has refereed internationally.
“When I found out I’d been selected I was very excited!” she says. “When I put my name forward, I knew there would only be eight referees and I did not expect to be selected from the other side of the world. I am very grateful to the WSF for the opportunity to be here and to further develop my knowledge, experience and contribution to the game.”
“Everyone has been very welcoming and friendly – event organisers, volunteers and the general public. There is a great atmosphere at the games and it is good to have arrived a few days before the start of play to be able to watch and learn about some of the other sports.”
For McNaught, part of what has made her experience so special is being part of an international refereeing community and being able to connect with referees from all over the world.
This sentiment is shared by Findlay, who adds that it has been a great experience to be a part of The World Games, where she feels she is representing both New Zealand and female squash referees.
She explains: “I was extremely proud that I was chosen. I do feel that we are representing New Zealand and that this is a great opportunity to promote NZ and female referees generally. It also gives me a chance to see players performing from other countries.”
McNaught adds: “I am proud to be here as a New Zealander and female referee. I want to represent my country well both on and off the court.”
With both referees drawing praise for their officiating at The World Games, the duo explain that the supportive New Zealand refereeing community and the World Squash Officiating platform have been extremely beneficial to their development.
“I am the only referee in my area and have to travel to most tournaments in NZ,” McNaught says. “I watch a lot of SQUASHTV with the sound off. The new WSO referee platform has been valuable to be able to learn remotely. I welcome feedback from both my peers and appraisers when I am at events and like the discussions we have around issues and calls.”
Findlay adds: “Nicky is from a different part of our country and so our paths don’t cross that often. But when we do meet up, it is a good chance to exchange ideas. As New Zealand has a small team of referees, when we meet up we work as a team and support each other.”
When asked what she enjoys most about squash, McNaught concludes: “Squash is one of the few sports where it doesn’t matter about your age or ability. There is a level for everyone to play and enjoy the game, from a weekly social hit with mates to professional level. In my club, Makarewa, there is a great community feel, almost like an extended family.”
The 2022 World Games are being held in Birmingham, USA, between 7-17 July 2022, with the squash tournament being played July 13-17. The event, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, is an international multi-sport competition comprising sports that are not contested in the Olympic Games.