Umpire academy founder named WA Young Person of the Year

Youth Award recipients Keisha Calyun, Gabby Loo, Jacob Cassey, Zal Kanga-Parabia, Youth Minister Peter Tinley and overall winner Brenda Amito.
Picture: Susie Blatchford
Youth Award recipients Keisha Calyun, Gabby Loo, Jacob Cassey, Zal Kanga-Parabia, Youth Minister Peter Tinley and overall winner Brenda Amito. Picture: Susie Blatchford

A NORTHERN suburbs teenager who founded a football umpire academy when she was 14 has been named WA’s young person of the year.

Butler resident Brenda Amito (16) received the title and the participate award for her efforts establishing the Edmund Rice Centre WA Multicultural AFL Umpiring Academy at the WA Youth Awards on October 25.

“Winning the award means the world as it just shows that the hard work we at the Edmund Rice Centre is doing is being recognised,” she said.

“I’m still in shock honestly didn’t think I was gonna to win the award; there was so many amazing stories told on the night.

“I feel gratitude and love just knowing that all the time I’ve put in is worth something means a lot.

“Winning the award just makes me strive harder to achieve my goals.

“I’m a third of a way to where I want to be – I feel as if this is just the start of an amazing journey and I’m just very happy that the world can walk the journey with me.”

Brenda Amito (second from left) with her parents Santa Amulo and Joseph Okot, and Children and Young People Commissioner Colin Pettit. Picture: Edmund Rice Centre

Born in Uganda, Brenda started the academy in 2017, achieving a long-term AFL objective of cultural diversity in umpiring.

The academy has developed more than 60 umpires from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds, securing opportunities to umpire at Little League and Auskick games at Optus Stadium, Public Schools’ Association games and amateur games with the WA Football Commission.

In the development camps, Brenda took full charge of the administrative duties including organising course material, conducting assessments, developing food menus and overseeing the volunteers.

She has taken full charge of the training and development requirements of the umpires by running regular training sessions and providing on the ground mentoring during umpiring events.

The Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) managed the awards, which were announced by Youth Minister Peter Tinley to recognise and reward Western Australians 25 years and younger for their achievements and contributions to the community.

“Brenda Amito has empowered a generation of multicultural youth to take control of their futures and feel part of a multicultural Australia,” Mr Tinley said.

“Her umpires have broken cultural stereotypes, inspired mainstream Australians with their professionalism and skill and brought a greater sense of cultural harmony to the community.”

Another Butler resident, Kristin Briggs (29), won the most outstanding youth worker award for her role with Comet CaRE (curriculum and re-engagement) School, providing alternative education for 60 young people who do not fit into mainstream education.

Ms Briggs has worked as a youth worker for 11 years in several organisations focusing mainly on drug and alcohol prevention.

She has developed programs to provide a holistic, well-rounded education incorporating the set curriculum as well as life skills, mental health education and awareness, and drug and alcohol education in a safe, fun and supportive environment for students.

Performer, photographer and creative director Zal Kanga-Parabia won the community leadership award for his involvement in projects supporting local artists, young people and not-for-profit organisations.

Duncraig resident Madeleine Cross (23) won the Charmaine Dragun memorial award for her radio piece on mental health with mentoring group 20Talk, and Millennium Kids member Jacob Cassey (15), of Nedlands, won the innovation for a sustainable future award.

Youth leader Gabby Loo (23), of Inglewood, won the cultural endeavours award and Noongar woman Keisha Calyun (25), of Helena Valley, won the positive achievement award.

Wyndham Youth Aboriginal Corporation won the organisational achievement award for a small organisation, while the Youth Involvement Council won the large organisational achievement award.

Visit www.yacwa.org.au for more information.