Alex Whetton will umpire his 50th NEAFL game this Saturday in the Redland vs. Aspley clash.
The 20-year-old hasn’t wasted any time racing to the half-century.
Whetton, who came through he Brisbane Juniors umpiring ranks, made his NEAFL debut in round 2, 2013.
While the games tally was always something he kept an eye on, he knew if he strived for other achievements, that would sort itself out.
“My goal after the debut was probably to get to a grand final. Whether 50 games came before or after that was just a natural progression I guess,” he said.
But even he wasn’t expecting it to arrive this quickly.
“It is pretty surprising. When you look at other people’s careers, and you aspire to get to where they are, and I guess I’ve gotten there a lot quicker than most people, but I’ve worked hard to get to where I am,” Whetton said.
At the end of 2015, Whetton took a giant step forward to his dream of becoming an AFL listed umpire when he was selected as a Rookie AFL Field Umpire for 2016.
That means he sits on the bench as the emergency umpire in some of the AFL games in Queensland and works closely with the AFL umpiring panel during the week, while still umpiring the NEAFL on weekends.
“It has been chockers, but mixing state league footy with all the requirements of being on the rookie list has done wonders for my season so far, and has put me in an ideal position for the rest of the year,” he said.
It’s opened his eyes to the dedication and commitment required to make the elite level.
“Just the amount of preparation and work that goes in beforehand to the three hours of work on the weekend. It’s the whole week, the lead up, the review, the recovery and the training, it all starts as soon as you finish the game on the previous weekend,” Whetton said.
His goals haven’t waivered. If anything, they have become stronger.
“In terms of the ultimate goal of getting onto the AFL list and heading down to Melbourne, nothing has changed. Realising the position I am in now puts me that next step forward and allows me to take on everything that the next few years bring,” Whetton said.
While not there yet, he is putting in the hard to give himself every chance.
“What’s required and what’s key is consistency week to week. Doing the right things, and as the game adapts and evolves throughout the year, staying consistent and doing what is needed,” he said.
You can catch Alex in action this Saturday at Tidbold Park from 1:30pm.
By Andrew Wiles