THE enthusiasm in his voice was unmistakable.
Chris Ansell is as excited about the upcoming football season as anyone.
Yet, he is not a footballer … rather, he is an umpire.
The 17-year-old, along with other members of the Western District Umpires Association, will commence their pre-season program next week in readiness for the 2014 season.
And Ansell can’t wait to get amongst it again.
“It should be a good year this year,” the young boundary and central umpire told the Hamilton Spectator this week.
“Hopefully we get a few more new faces and get familiar ones back.
“Get a bit more training in … get fitter again.
“Bring the season on, I reckon.”
Ansell has made a rapid and impressive rise through the umpiring ranks since he first decided to become a whistle blower.
“I started playing footy when I was 12 or 13,” he said.
“It got to the point where I sort of got bored with it … doing the same old stuff.
“We weren’t winning every game, we were losing more than we won.
“So I thought, ‘well I’ve got to have a different look at this.’
“The umpires came to school and a mate’s like ‘you’ve got to come and join, you’ve got to come and join.’
“I said ‘I will do it next year when I finish playing footy.’
“But then I was like, it might be a good idea.”
Ansell took one of the flyers home and talked it over with his parents.
With their support, he decided to hang up his football boots and pick up a whistle instead.
“There was a big group of us who went,” he said.
“Some of us stuck around and enjoyed it.”
It is this friendship and camaraderie within the umpiring ranks that continues to convince him that he made the right decision.
“You make good friendships,” Ansell said.
Full story in the Spectator on Saturday, February 1, 2014