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New appointments support event delivery and organisational growth at England Touch Association

England Touch has made a number of new appointments within the Association’s delivery, management and governance areas.

These appointments, which are both paid and voluntary, will help to ensure the successful delivery of the 2024 Touch World Cup - the biggest ever - and reinforce England Touch’s plans to make Touch one of the biggest participation sports in England.

Two short-term paid appointments - Kathy Van de Rijt and Louis Treays - will help to lead the delivery of the England Touch programme and Touch World Cup.

Kathy has long been one of the leading referees in the country, and is one of a handful to have been awarded Level 5 status. Away from the Touch field, she runs her own business and has experience working in the financial sector. Kathy has been appointed as Operations Manager, and will be working as part of the delivery team responsible r for England Touch’s Membership and Affiliation Offer, Event Management and Delivery, Training and Development, and Participation and Growth.

“Taking on the role of ETA's new Operations Manager, is absolutely amazing,” she says. “I am looking forward to working with Chris, Sammie and the leadership team, and to work alongside all the fantastic ETA volunteers. I am so excited for this new challenge. 

“I have seen our wonderful sport of Touch grow over the last few years, and I would very much like to continue working on that to help deliver the best season ever and to establish a long-lasting impact on the way the ETA is evolving as an organisation.”

Louis has been appointed as World Cup Operations Manager, a crucial position with two months to go until Nottingham welcomes around 4,000 participants from the 189 teams representing 39 nations. He will be working closely with England Touch CEO, and Event Director, Chris Simon, and the event delivery team to bring the planning to life for a World Cup which will live long in the memory.

As well as being a dual-nation Touch international, Louis has worked in the Rugby department of Millfield School, helping to set up a Touch programme and delivering events for one of the country’s most prestigious sporting schools.

““I'm absolutely thrilled to embrace the challenge of being the Operations Manager for the upcoming Touch World Cup!” he says. “It's an incredibly exciting time for our community, and I can't wait to collaborate with the ETA team to make this event truly unforgettable.”

Simon welcomed both Kathy and Louis into the England Touch leadership team.

“I’m delighted to have both Kathy and Louis join us at a very exciting time for the organisation,” he said. “As well as being extremely familiar with the Touch community, they both have strong levels of professional experience, and we’re all looking forward to working with them over the next few months.”

Joining the volunteer leadership group is Ben Blackburn as Head of Governance. As well as being the leading light at Banbury Saxons and an England international player, Ben is Head of Operations at WRAP, a climate action non-government organisation working across the globe, where he provides leadership in IT management and strategy, staff resourcing and performance, digital strategy, operations, quality, buildings management and facilities. Ben is a qualified GDPR practitioner and WRAP's Data Protection Manager, am responsible for enterprise risk management and have recently taken on the role Head of Wellbeing.

“I’m delighted that Ben has agreed to become our new Head of Governance,” Simon added. “He has first hand experience of running a club and managing an international touring team, and has a comprehensive professional understanding of best practice within corporate governance. As we welcome Ben I’d like to thank the outgoing Barry French for his time, support and experience in covering this role for the last 18 months

The final appointment is Geoff Karikari as an appointed Non-Executive Director. With 20 years of leadership experience in the legal profession, Geoff has particular interests in engaging with under-represented communities, and in developing talent, two key focus areas for the England Touch Association at a strategic level. He also comes with a wealth of commercial experience and associated neitwork this brings.

“I’m delighted that Geoff will be joining the Board as an appointed Non-Executive Director,” says England Touch Chair, Tim Loveridge. “Geoff’s enthusiasm and experience will really add to our capabilities as a Board and will enhance our focus on commercial partnerships and sponsorship as we look to deliver our strategy and build on the success of Touch in England after the World Cup in July.”

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