THE Top End continues to be a breeding ground for the AFL, not only for budding young footballers but also the men and women in orange. Two Queensland umpires have landed in Darwin ahead of the NTFL season this weekend to continue their development in the hopes of jumping up the ranks.
Queenslanders James Strybos and Ashleigh Hales will pull out the whistle and battle the Territory heat to enhance their skills. AFLNT Umpiring Manager Mark Noonan says the exposure is beneficial for the young umpires. ‘‘It’s just another stepping stone and part of the career pathway for those guys”.
Hales will be the first female field umpire to officiate in a senior match in the Territory and at just 20 years old, she has the potential to achieve great success. She umpired two Senior matches in AFLQ’s Pineapple Hotel Competition in 2010 as part of her debeut to Senior Football. Greg Howell, AFLQ’s State Umpire Manager congratulated Ashleigh on her appointment. “Ashleigh will benefit from spending a season in the NT and come back a more experienced and capable umpire. She works hard and has earnt all her senior appointments through her skills and abilities.
James Strybos has followed in his father’s footsteps. David Strybos umpired a NTFL grand final about 15 years ago. Andrew Reeves, AFLQ’s Umpire Coach believes Strybos will enjoy umpiring the NTFL. “NT Football is an exciting and challenging competition that requires umpires to have strong match management and communication skills. James will mature quickly in that environment.”
QLD umpires have been travelling to the northern territory to further their development for more than 15 years.