WHEN Jack Bombardieri shows up to umpire in two Saturdays’ time, it won’t be just the usual day at the footy.
The promising boundary umpire has been selected to officiate the AFL Victoria Country Championships match between the Goulburn Valley and Ballarat football leagues.
However, the game won’t be played in Shepparton or at Eastern Oval. Rather it will be at the home of football, the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
He is one of several umpires from Bendigo to score a gig as part of the annual interleague series, but the only one headed to the MCG.
“It’s really exciting, I can’t wait,” he said.
“It was a bit of a surprise when I found out, but I guess that’s where everyone wants to step out on to as part of a match so it will be a great experience.”
The 18-year-old took up umpiring five years ago, and has quickly progressed through the Bendigo Umpires Association senior ranks under the watchful eye of 300-game AFL umpire Mark Vitiritti.
“I just decided I wasn’t going to play one year but wanted to stay involved and so thought that umpiring would be a good way to do that,” he said.
“It was probably for the money at the start, but I enjoy the fitness side of it and I have loved it a lot more than I thought I would.”
It comes as the BUA and local umpiring groups across the state celebrate Community Umpiring Round. The AFL Victoria-driven initiative aims to recognise the role umpires play within football and also highlight development opportunities for umpires.
In Victoria alone, there are more than 7000 registered umpires at community level, along with thousands of club-based umpires.
“It’s good fun, I’d say to anyone that was the same age as I was or loves their footy and wants to be involved to give it go,” Bombardieri said.
“It’s a great way to be involved in the game. And if you get an opportunity like this it’s even better.”
– Joel Peterson