Blown away: Coffs Harbour umpire Mitch Turner is emerging as one of the AFL’s top young officials.
Blown away: Coffs Harbour umpire Mitch Turner is emerging as one of the AFL’s top young officials.

Young umpire adopts senior role

AFL North Coast umpire Mitchell Turner has the honour of mentoring and nurturing the next crop of match officials when the Joss State Zone Trials come to Coffs Harbour today.

It is a fantastic achievement for the 18-year-old who has risen quickly through the ranks since he first blew the whistle five years ago.

“This year I will be taking on a mentoring role, where the other umpires are more than likely going to be there for the first time,” Turner said.

“It's a great experience since I'm familiar with what's going on and because I'm a local umpire I can help them with their umpiring.”

Despite having only umpired for a short period, Turner has already umpired two AFL North Coast senior grand finals, claimed the Golden Whistle award in 2008 and has been part of the development academy for the past three years.

However, the student nurse is always striving for more, especially when there's family rivalry involved.

“I've got two brothers, a twin, who still plays AFL and my older brother is a senior umpire,” Turner said.

“There is a bit of competition between me and my brother as he's got a couple of years up and he's umpired five senior grand finals and I've done two ... but he's umpired for three years longer so we're pretty even.

“Ultimately, I want to be the umpire out there on AFL grand final day at the MCG.

“I want to make it all the way and be that umpire in the middle.”

The new North East Australian Football League will provide umpires with the chance to officiate matches involving Sydney Swans, GWS Giants, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns reserves sides.

State Umpiring manager Graham Glassford said Turner is one of many umpires coming through the system who are helping put NSW/ACT officials on the map.

“With umpires like Mitchell coming through our program and with more opportunities than ever before for umpires we truly believe we'll be seeing more NSW/ACT born players in the AFL in the coming years,” Glassford said.

“Best of luck to all umpires chosen in the development academy for Coffs Harbour.

“This is a fantastic achievement and a real opportunity to take your umpiring to another level with around-the-clock access to coaches and personnel.”

People interested in umpiring can view details at the AFL NSW/ACT Umpiring Department website at www.aflnswact.com.au.



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