Vale Maureen Watson
Past President International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Associations (IFWLA)
19 May, 1935 – 12 August, 2020
Tribute by Fiona Clark, World Lacrosse Competition Director & former IFWLA President
It is with sadness that World Lacrosse has been informed of the passing of former IFWLA President, Maureen Watson, on 12 August 2020.
Maureen’s career, and passion for the sport, started as a player. Born in England, she played lacrosse at school, and competed for the South Territory for many years. When she had finished her playing career Maureen was very supportive of the various touring teams and was fondly known to all as “Auntie Maureen.”
In the late 1960’s/early 1970’s Maureen became Chair of the All England Women’s Lacrosse Association (AEWLA). Liz Blaydes, also a former Chair of All England, and a former IFWLA President, recalls her abiding memory of those meetings was ‘what an outstanding, no nonsense Chair Maureen was.’ Maureen was honoured in 1974 with AEWLA Hon. Life Membership.
In 1982 Maureen undertook the role of AEWLA Treasurer for a 3-year term, before serving as the All England Women’s Honorary President from 1985 – 1988. In 1987 the AEWLA celebrated seventy-five successful years since its establishment in 1912. In the Souvenir Brochure compiled for this celebration, in her President’s address, Maureen stated “Lacrosse has a marvelous opportunity to make an impact in the sporting world, and we look forward to the continuing development of the game we all love so much.” In the same publication, Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, Patron of England Lacrosse, and a former player herself, stated that “AEWLA celebrating this milestone must be thanks to the dedicated support it has always received from its volunteers, which has not only helped the sport in England, but has contributed to its progress overseas, particularly in America and in Australia.” Maureen was influential in both this domestic and international growth during these years.
At the 1989 IFWLA Conference in Perth, Western Australia, Maureen was elected IFWLA President for a four-year term. Serving with her as Vice Presidents, were Marge Garinger (Rules & Umpiring), Fiona Clark (Tours & Tournaments), Jackie Pitts (Development & Promotion), and Lori Livingston (Secretary/Treasurer). The 4th IFWLA World Cup was held in 1993 at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the event program, Maureen, in her opening address, stated “May all of us benefit from this opportunity to mix both on and off the field with others from diverse cultures, which is the hallmark of a truly international sporting occasion.”
Renowned for her hospitality Maureen hosted a celebration to honour the awarding of Hon. Life Membership to Liz Blaydes and Jackie Pitts during this event.
Maureen was married to Robert Watson for 43 years, and they made a formidable couple. They were equally sports-minded and capable. Robert Watson, who passed away in 2012, was also well renowned in sport, and he will long be remembered not only for his wonderful contribution to Hockey, serving as Hon. Treasurer of the British Olympic Association from 1980 – 1992, but equally for his ebullient personality. He was a man of great eloquence, intelligence, and quick wit ~ sport was their life;. It was said that Robert was “extremely fortunate to have met his match” in Maureen, who was ‘equally industrious,’ and throughout a hectic life, he fully recognized her whole-hearted support and guidance. Everyone who met Maureen, and Robert, has their own story to tell. My favourite is when I stayed with Maureen & Robert ahead of the 1991 IFWLA Annual Conference in Oakham, and Maureen took me as her guest to the Ladies Singles Wimbledon Final ~ a chauffeured-limousine to the All England Club and a day of VIP treatment!
Outside of lacrosse Maureen loved golf and gardening. Close, life-long friend, Lynne Spackman, recalls Maureen helping her with her garden and says “Sadly I never learned Latin plant names which Maureen, a chemistry graduate, seemed to find memorable. Neither did I learn to do The Daily Telegraph crossword at which Maureen seemed to excel.” Maureen and Robert took Lynne under their ‘expansive wings’ when she started playing and umpiring international lacrosse and tells the story of being put to work trying to raise money for the AEWLA when Maureen was Chair. Lynne asks, “How many of you reading this tribute remember The Cradling Competition?” She thinks she was given the title of Press Secretary and told to “do something,” and that was it! “Maureen was very good at promotion and soon the finances were improving. Not everyone would like her methods (she told me) but she would make a difference. And she did.”
Rest in Peace Maureen.