By Ian Williams
Young Port Lincoln footy fanatic Jack Waller has some big decisions to make after an impressive performance in the recent SANFL Youth Championships in Adelaide – as an umpire.
The 15-year-old St Joseph’s student was the youngest umpire to officiate in an A grade league game last year and was selected to officiate in the championship grand final at AAMI Stadium this month.
Now Jack has been offered a place as a SANFL academy umpire in Adelaide – a position he can take up after his 16th birthday on Christmas Day.
“It’s a seven week program and then I’d be placed on the SANFL roster list – but I’d have to move to Adelaide first,” says Jack. “I’m still thinking about it.”
It would be the perfect stepping stone for Jack who has ambitions of becoming an AFL umpire.
“I also love playing but I feel I can go further in umpiring – and you get big money in the top level,” says Jack. “I’d love to go as a far as I can. I really enjoy being out there as you get to see everything – it’s the best spot on the field.”
Brett Channon, president of the Port Lincoln Football League Umpires Association, has no doubt Jack can succeed.
“He does a role that no-one else wants to do,” says Brett. “We have field umpires in the football league but we can’t find young people like Jack who are prepared to put themselves out there in the middle.
“He’s very conscious of everything he does and makes an effort to mimic what happens in the AFL – you just can’t get that in young lads today. We wish we had 20 of him.”
Jack currently plays in the Under 17s for Port Lincoln South and has a quick break before umpiring A grade.
He admits umpires aren’t always the most popular people on the field and are sometimes open to abuse.
“But I don’t worry about that at all. In Port Lincoln it’s pretty good and there are good vibes – I just go out there and do my job.”
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