On Sunday, 30 July, Year 12 student Henry King umpired an AFL curtain-raiser game at Optus Stadium. Not only did Henry enjoy the thrill of umpiring in a renowned stadium, but
he also had the privilege of meeting and learning from AFL umpires who were officiating the main clash between West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne.
"Umpiring plays a major role in my life and umpiring at Optus Stadium was a big privilege and an amazing experience. Umpiring is something that I really enjoy and it allows me to keep fit. The stadium itself was really good to run on. It was such a different but pleasant feeling being on the ground instead of being up in the stands." Henry said.
Henry King's journey to the big stage began when he was selected to umpire the Division 1 Grand Final of the Nutrien Ag Solutions Country Football Championships at Fremantle Oval. Following his exceptional performance during the championship, he was given the opportunity to officiate the curtain-raiser match between Women’s State 18s and Women’s WA Country.
To hone his umpiring craft, Henry dedicates significant time to training, including attending webinars where coaching staff from the WAFL review streamed games. Despite only beginning field umpiring at the senior level in the South West Football League in 2021, he has already amassed an impressive 85 SWFL games and 19 representative games, including eight finals.
Although he is not yet umpiring at the AFL level, Henry has set his sights on achieving this long-term goal. He has also been invited to train at the WAFL level, which marks the next step in his journey.
Umpiring is undeniably a challenging role, knowing that every decision made on the field can evoke mixed emotions from players and spectators alike. However, umpires like Henry play a pivotal role in ensuring fair play and a smooth game, allowing players and fans to enjoy the sport they love.
As Henry continues to strive for excellence in his umpiring career, his remarkable achievements so far are a testament to his passion and commitment to the game.
Photo Credit: JLG Photographics