Umpires make mark on country contest
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.
NPFL field umpire Rodney Barden and boundary umpire Mikayla Thomas, 16, represented the region at the Landmark Country Football Championships last month.