Um­pires make mark on coun­try con­test

Pilbara News - - Sport - Ali­cia Per­era

Two North Pil­bara Football League um­pires had the hon­our of call­ing the shots at the State’s ma­jor coun­try football tour­na­ment early last month.

NPFL field um­pire Rod­ney Bar­den and bound­ary um­pire Mikayla Thomas, 16, were the only two lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the pool of about 50 um­pires re­cruited for the Land­mark Coun­try Football Cham­pi­onships in Perth on July 8-10.

It re­quired brav­ing con­di­tions very dif­fer­ent from what Pil­bara um­pires are used to, with in­tense cold, re­lent­less rain and hail all fea­tures of this year’s event.

Bar­den, an ex­pe­ri­enced um­pire who has been part of the Land­mark Cham­pi­onships sev­eral times, was this year also awarded a role um­pir­ing the A-grade grand fi­nal, recog­nis­ing him as one of the top coun­try um­pires in WA.

He said as the big­gest com­pe­ti­tion in the State for coun­try football um­pires, the event was al­ways a chal­lenge.

“All the games were good — close, fast-paced,” he said.

“Be­cause you’ve got the best county foot­ballers play­ing in the teams, I think one of the big things we no­ticed was the speed of the game.”

Mean­while this year’s Land­mark Cham­pi­onships marked a de­but for Mikayla, who is the sole fe­male um­pire in the NPFL and be­gan after be­ing scouted in late 2013.

She was specif­i­cally asked to be part of the event by WA Football Com­mis­sion Um­pir­ing Path­ways man­ager Tim Priest and said she had found it a valu­able learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially with the more ef­fi­cient um­pir­ing sys­tem used.

“I think it’s great to be in­volved in the se­niors’ game,” she said of um­pir­ing. “It’s a good feel­ing to be in­volved, es­pe­cially in a game that I love. Some­times I think of tak­ing it fur­ther to be a field um­pire.”

Both said they would like to re­turn next year.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

NPFL field um­pire Rod­ney Bar­den and bound­ary um­pire Mikayla Thomas, 16, rep­re­sented the re­gion at the Land­mark Coun­try Football Cham­pi­onships last month.

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