Netball's Alice is deserved winner of 'Lifetime Achievement' Award

Bill Carne, Alice Watts and Alan Jones

Assistant coach and friend, Fay Omnet, was thrilled to hear that her sporting friend Alice Watts had been chosen for ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award’ in the recent virtual presentation of the special trophies recognising sporting excellence across our county.
‘The Lifetime Achievement Award’ is obviously the most prestigious award given out each year and we asked Fay to tell us a little more about Alice’s immensely long and meritorious service that merited her award, following in the footsteps of many of our county’s other top sporting personalities.
Alice Watts started her netball days at St Peter’s School in Doncaster and when she moved with her family to Germany and then Malaysia she played basketball but longed to return to netball.
When she came to Pembroke, where her father Pedro McMahon was a well-known sportsman, Alice joined Pembroke Ladies within three months of their starting up – and has been there ever since!

Alice Watts Huge contribution – and great family support

Since then she has made an immense contribution for the best part of half a century to netball in Pembrokeshire and beyond, helping to raise awareness of her sport in 45 years as a player, coach, umpire and, for 15 years, as Welsh Team Manager for U17 and U20 players.
To do this she has the total support of husband Steve, her daughter Tracey, who was also a good netball player, and her son Ian, who still plays hockey in New Zealand. She actually played alongside Tracey and her granddaughter Megan Kenniford at one time in her long career.
 Small wonder then that Alice was a popular choice amongst panel members when they decided she was worthy of the ‘Lifetime Achievement in Sport’ at the Sport Pembrokeshire Sport Awards, organised annually  under the auspices of Ben Field, Alan Jones and Co at Sport Pembrokeshire, at Pembrokeshire County Council.
That the awards went ahead in 2020 under such difficult circumstances owes much to Alan Jones, who had done such a great job over previous years and was determined that the pandemic would not stop them, albeit under restricted circumstances, that halted the annual presentation traditionally held at The Folly Farm Theatre.
It was Alan who presented the award to Alice, maintaining social distances, with Bill Carne also there to say well done as the regular MC of the awards since their inception.

Fay sings Alice’s praises in just the right way

We asked Fay Omnet, who has worked closely over a number of years as assistant coach to Alice, to tell us all about someone she clearly holds in high esteem and would like to thank her for her efforts in compiling this lovely tribute.
“Alice is passionate about netball, and in her playing career she was a goal attack/goal shooter who has represented Pembroke Ladies Club and Dyfed County Team.
“As well as playing in the over 40s age group for Dyfed, Alice also volunteered as their umpire and team manager, which included organising refreshments for away matches and tournaments, which could be as far as England.   

Some of the netball team with Alice Watts and Fay Omnet

Her unique talents recognised by players and parents

“As a volunteer coach at Pembroke Ladies and Pembroke Juniors she has been re-elected by the players and parents for over 40 years. She has coached players, player’s children and more recently their grandchildren, a truly inter-generational coach.
“Alice has a unique talent for developing a player’s skill, focusing on their talent i.e. if they are suited as defence or attack player, and slotting them into a team where it is not only best for them, but for the team. She eventually became development officer for Pembrokeshire County Council and was instrumental in helping several clubs to get started.
“Up until March 2020, Alice coached girls from 7-15 years of age every Tuesday for two hours a week, plus attending 2-3 matches on Saturday mornings over a season (8 months of the year) as coach and umpire.
“She has also supported local schools and she has coached the Pembroke School team to the Secondary Welsh National Finals (the Anne Smart Trophy) which they won with one of the team member actually going on to gain a Welsh Cap, and she travelled to South Africa with the team in 2007.  She also helped a local Junior School to the URDD netball finals.

International umpire – and Welsh team manager at two age levels

“Soon after qualifying as an International Umpire, she volunteered and was selected as Wales’ U17s team manager, and later progressed to U20s, which involved regularly travelling to Cardiff for training and further afield for matches.
“Her main role as Team Manager was to be responsible for the welfare of the U17 and U20 players, on and off the court. This was an incredible achievement, and she would continuously use her experiences and knowledge from this to bring back to grassroots’ netball; not only in Pembroke but also in Pembrokeshire as a volunteer. She has often been called on to cover umpiring at tournaments and mentor new and up and coming umpires from the ages of 14 plus.

Alice with her old teammates

Selfless devotion to her sport

Alice’s has consistently dedicated her life to selflessly coaching netball, to all ages of players, in a deprived area, with minimal financial support. She has never requested or received expenses for travelling or hours coaching/umpiring netball.
“She has always tried to maintain costs as low as possible enabling netball to be accessible for young girls to play long term. Her success shows by three generations attending Pembroke Ladies Netball and Pembroke Juniors Netball over five decades.
“It also demonstrates that over the years past players are keen to bring their children to someone they trust and deeply respect for them to be educated; develop their skills, knowledge and team work, which not only prepares them for netball but for their future. 
“I cannot express enough how dedicated Alice has been, without any personal or financial gain, except to see individuals enjoying a sport that she feels very passionate about.  It is truly fitting, as she retires, Alice has received recognition for her lifelong passion and tireless efforts to the sport of netball.”

Fay OmnetPersonal thoughts from Fay

“I have known Alice since I was 13 (1983) after joining as a young clueless player!
“As I started to attend regular practice, Alice promoted the attending of trials at county, regional and national level and when I joined, I never thought this was possible!
“But Alice made it possible. She would take us to matches and trials, as coach, umpire, team manager and even designated bus driver!
“When Alice was selected as Team Manager for Wales, she always shared her experiences with us all at Pembroke Netball Club, inspiring youngsters to aim to play for their national side. But more importantly, she encouraged players to enjoy netball as a lifelong passion.
“I cannot express enough how dedicated Alice has been, without any personal or financial gain, except to see individuals enjoying a sport that she feels very passionate about.  It is truly fitting, as she retires, that Alice has received deserved recognition for her lifelong passion and tireless efforts to the sport of netball.”
This lovely tribute from Fay Omnet epitomes the massive contribution Alice Watts has made for 45 years to netball – and we join all those in the sport in congratulating a lady who was clearly surprised but typically very moved when she learned of the honour she has received in being awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement in Sport’ for 2020!