Nick Watkins becomes First ITO Assessor in North America

Ottawa, Ontario | June 1, 2015

Bowls Canada Boulingrin is excited to announce that Canada’s National Chief Umpire, Nick Watkins, has been accredited as the first International Technical Official (ITO) Assessor in North America.  Watkins completed all the requirements in becoming an Assessor in Australia this spring before returning to Canada.

The road to becoming an International Technical Official hasn’t always been easy for North American umpires, but Watkins in looking to change that.  Before Watkins became accredited as an assessor, there were only six other ITO Assessors in the world, three in the United Kingdom and one in Africa, New Zealand and Australia respectively. Previously, any Level 2 umpire who wished to seek an ITO accreditation needed to travel overseas to be assessed, limiting North American exposure. Having Watkins as a resident ITO assessor will now make the ITO assessment process more accessible on this side of the world. 

Watkins is fortunate enough to have family in Australia and spends his winters in the sunny outback with his grandchildren.  It was through this that Watkins was able to begin the ITO assessment process just over a year ago.  Watkins was awarded the International Technical Official accreditation after being examined in Melbourne last year and became a member of the World Bowls Laws and Constitution Committee in September 2014. 

There are only six members on this committee and Watkins not only represents Canada, but also all of North America.  Becoming a member of the Laws Committee is a step in the ITO Assessor process but Watkins’ work wasn’t done there.  In March, he was an umpire at the World Junior Championships in Australia and also shadowed Australian ITO Assessor Mark Cowan to complete the requirements.  The World Bowls Laws Committee gave Watkins their stamp of approval and he became an accredited International Technical Official Assessor in May 2015.

“I am very privileged to be the first ITO Assessor in North America,” said Watkins, “I am looking forward to bringing my experiences to Canada and excited for the next few years to certify many level 2 umpires as ITOs and have them represent Canada and bowls on the world stage”.

There are many accredited ITOs worldwide, but the interest in Canada has been low to date.  With the addition of a resident assessor, there is no need to go overseas to become accredited and it provides more opportunities for national umpires.  Major international competitions require a certain percentage of their umpires to be ITOs and Watkins’ experience and qualifications will make it easier to have Canadians represented.

“We are thrilled to have a Canadian based ITO Assessor,” said Anna Mees, Executive Director, Bowls Canada Boulingrin, “we are looking forward to working with Nick Watkins to provide Canadian umpires opportunities to achieve this internationally recognized standard”. 

Watkins is also the chair of the National Officiating Committee through Bowls Canada Boulingrin and has worked tirelessly to help implement the new umpiring process.  He has led training sessions to train trainers to administer the new program through the provincial organizations.  He has also worked to provide existing umpires refresher courses to ensure they are up to date with any changes and ready to represent the sport of bowls.  Watkins stresses the importance of maintaining umpiring accreditation, it is important to keep it updated to ensure consistency throughout Canada as well as across the world.

The following are requirements for Accreditation as an International Technical Official (ITO):

  • World Bowls appoints ITOs to officiate at international events
  • Canadian ITO candidates must be proficient and qualified as a Level 2 Umpire and as a Marker
  • ITO candidates must complete an application form and document their officiating experience and send these forms to Bowls Canada Boulingrin for endorsement
  • Applicants must have actively officiated for a minimum of three years; there is an minimum requirement of officiating at five events and 30 hours annually over the most recent three years
  • Applicants must have officiated as an umpire in at least two major events in the past two years
  • Applicants must have officiated as a marker in at least two major events in the past two years
  • Applicants must be currently certified as a Level 2 Umpire and have successfully passed the World Bowls measuring exam within the past three years
  • The ITO assessment process includes three parts: a written exam based on the laws of the sport; a measuring exam; and assessment in the role of a marker

For further information about becoming an umpire or an International Technical Official, visit our website.

For more information, please contact:       
Anna Mees    
Executive Director, Bowls Canada Boulingrin

About Bowls Canada Boulingrin          
Bowls Canada Boulingrin (BCB) is the governing body responsible for lawn bowls in Canada. The BCB mission is to advance the sport of bowls in Canada. For more details on Bowls Canada Boulingrin and the sport of lawn bowls, visit