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AFL House helps with Hugh’s umpire dream

06 Aug 2017

AFL House helps with Hugh’s umpire dream Image

By Kate Mani

Junior umpire Hugh Florance has returned to AFL House to thank umpire Matt Stevic who inspired his passion in this unusual hobby.

It is nearly two years since 11-year-old Hugh attracted media attention for his interest in umpiring, as he mimicked umpires in outfit and in actions during a Round 21 AFL match at Etihad Stadium in 2015.

He was subsequently interviewed by numerous radio stations, as well as interviewed by Channel 7 on Harbour Esplanade and invited to the 2015 Grand Final by Mr Stevic.

“Hugh borrowed his sister’s crayon and wrote a letter to AFL House after he found a passion for umpiring each lunch time at school,” his father, Matt, said.

“A few weeks later a big box with a signed umpires playing shirt and whistle arrived. Hugh was now even more interested than ever. He also received an invite to Round 21 and more importantly meet the umpires prior to the game.”

Since then, Hugh has umpired regularly at his local football club, Camberwell Sharks, and is currently umpiring two games per Sunday, ranging from under eight’s to under 16 girls.

Through his umpiring experience he has learnt to be resilient when junior players don’t agree with his umpiring calls, telling his father: “It’s my job Dad, and you just need to understand the boys aren’t cross with me, they are cross with the rules!”

For Hugh and Matt, Docklands will always be the place where Hugh’s dream of becoming an umpire came to life.

“The importance of returning to the Docklands was reliving the excitement of Matt Stevic gifting Hugh two tickets to the 2015 AFL grand final with the important task of leading the umpires onto the field,” said Matt.

“The AFL has assisted Hugh’s life dream, not only enter local umpiring, but they have assisted him via training sessions linked to the VFL,” he said.

“Hugh’s living the dream.”

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