Age is no barrier for veteran umpire Hal Pearce

Hal Pearce has made a return to umpiring this year.

 

HAL Pearce is showing that age is truly just a number.

At the age of 74, the veteran umpire has returned this year to officiate AFL North Coast junior games each Sunday as well as some women’s games on Saturdays.

Pearce was involved in the start of AFL in the Coffs Harbour region over 40 years ago, and was a founding member of the Coffs Swans club back in 1980.

He transitioned into umpiring from playing and administration but had to step aside 10 years ago due to ill health.

“I had chronic fatigue for six years and early this year when I felt good again, I thought I better have something to get me back on the horse so I thought why not umpire,” he said.

“It’s not like marathon running where you’re pushed all the time, you can basically go at your own pace.”

The veteran umpire explained why officiating was still a natural fit for him.

“Two reasons and both are because I can,” he said.

“One I know the rules and two I’m lucky enough to have legs that are still working.”

One of the ‘new’ umpire’s favourite aspects of blowing a whistle is getting to work with young umpires taking their first steps as a lime green official.

“There’s a lot of young umpires which start at this level and the advantage I have is not only do I umpire but I encourage,” he said.

“If a kid makes a good decision I say ‘great stuff’, I don’t clap or anything but I just tell them ‘that’s great work’ which is probably something you’re unable to do in senior footy.”

Pearce is living proof you are never too old to be an umpire.

“Give it a go,” he urged.

“I think it can be quite fulfilling and it’s good to see kids playing sport.

“And if it wasn’t for this I’d have to be doing something else.”

Pearce likened himself to a vintage model car.

“Older men playing sport is a bit like old cars, a bit more maintenance is required,” he said.

AFL North Coast Community Football and Competition Manager Paul Taylor said Pearce had shown you could always be involved in a sport you love.

“This year Hal has returned to the Umpiring ranks at the age of 74 because he could,” he said.

“In doing so, he’s showing the whole community it’s never too late to get involved.”

To get into umpiring go to Umpire.AFL and contact Emily Brown, Umpiring Co-ordinator, via [email protected].

 

By Aiden BURGESS

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