Juniors urged to pick up the whistle

Young umpires Ryan Kovalevs, Kane Hughes, Rhys Turner and Leigh Retallack.
Young umpires Ryan Kovalevs, Kane Hughes, Rhys Turner and Leigh Retallack.

Mr Kovalevs is the junior umpiring coordinator for the East Perth district, facilitating umpires for modified rules games, played from age seven to 12, and open rules games, played by 12-year-olds and over.

He said junior umpires were urgently needed to meet demand, and he recommended the program after seeing his son Ryan progress through the ranks.

‘We’re OK in the modified rules, but we are light on in the open rules and we’re not able to cover every game every week, which is ideally what we’d like to be able to do,’ the Ballajura resident said.

‘As those kids progress through the ranks though, there are real opportunities. You end up with a national accreditation; you can gain a real footing, moving through to WAFL Reserves and onwards.’

He said even in the lower grades, juniors were dealing with team managers and coaches.

‘I’ve seen young kids come in who wouldn’t say boo to anyone, and to see after six months of umpiring, the way they handle themselves, you wouldn’t think it was the same kid.’

The juniors are instructed on how to deal with every scenario, from reporting players to dealing with abusive parents.

‘It’s unfortunate we have to teach that, but at some stage an umpire is going to have to report a player, or deal with an abusive parent’