Young boundary umpire Stephen Leitch has a few nerves, but is excited about umpiring his first Goulburn Valley Football League senior grand final.By Matthew Galea
Stephen Leitch is feeling a bit nervous ahead of his first senior Goulburn Valley Football League grand final, but he is not alone.
The boundary umpire, 17, has enjoyed a quick rise since taking up umpiring last year, but he shared his butterflies with fellow, more senior, umpires in Goulburn Valley Football Umpires’ Association president Darren Meek and Andrew Moore.
Leitch has had a big year balancing his under-17 football commitments with Waaia with a busy umpiring schedule and was looking forward to his first GVFL grand final.
‘‘It should be exciting,’’ Leitch said.
‘‘I’ve been to the V/Line Umpiring Academy and I’ve umpired at the V/Line Cup and did the Kyabram District Football League grand final last year.
‘‘This will probably be the best game I’ve ever done.’’
Leitch said umpiring offered a great way to earn money and he had loved taking it on aged 16 last year and was keen to see more youngsters get involved in umpiring.
‘‘I think if young umpires stick together, we’ll have a really good rank of umpires in the next few years,’’ Leitch said.
Leitch said Waaia had been supportive of him umpiring, so long as he gave his all for the club, and he had not had much trouble balancing the two.
Meek said Leitch was a great example for any aspiring young umpires.
‘‘He still plays footy on a Saturday morning, which is great, and it just shows kids his age that they can still play sport and umpire,’’ Meek said.
‘‘I’m sure he’ll acquit himself very well.’’
This will be Meek’s sixth senior GVFL grand final and he didn’t think it gets much easier as time goes on.
‘‘You still get those nerves, even though you look forward to it,’’ Meek said.
‘‘I really enjoy the umpiring still and it’s great to be able to do it with Andrew (Moore) and Glenn (Hayes), who are two really good umpires as well.’’
Moore will be involved in his fifth GVFL grand final as a central umpire, and said he was getting more and more used to the big occasion.
‘‘You just want to do the game justice,’’ Moore said.
‘‘This is my 11th year, I started when I was in Year 9, and it was good to get involved in it for the fitness and because you get to watch a bit of footy.’’
Meek and Moore will be joined in their central umpiring duties by Hayes, while Leitch will share the boundary with Jack McClure.
Barry McCrae and John Parnell are the goal umpires.
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