A veteran Sapphire Coast umpire has been acknowledged for his volunteer work at the annual AFL NSW/ACT Volunteer of the Year awards.
Ash Lamb, the umpire's coordinator for the Sapphire Coast AFL, won the NSW/ACT National Community Umpiring Service award announced earlier this week.
Mr. Lamb, who runs two childcare centres in Tuross Head and Bermagui when he's not umpiring, said he didn't know he was nominated until he found out about the award late last week.
"I found out about the award last Thursday when the AFL range me to tell me about it," he said. "I still don't know who nominated me.
"I don't think I fully comprehended the award until a I had people calling me about it.
"My umpiring is just about doing what I love, and enjoying it - it's nice to receive and award, particularly when you're not expecting it, but for me, it's just what I do.
"The AFL community on the Sapphire Coast has been a wonderful place for me to develop as an umpire and to develop new umpires."
Mr Lamb has been in his umpires role for eight years now, and can still be seen in the middle just about every weekend.
"A lot of my role is doing the appointments, getting those communications out, and getting the umpires to accept them," he said.
"Often on a Friday or Saturday I'll be chasing up umpires, it's not too dissimilar to a head coach chasing up players on a Saturday morning.
"I've got more of an overseeing role when it comes to training, we've got some line coaches who do the bulk of that."
Umpiring (and officiating) has become a somewhat controversial topic in recent years, with sports across the country experiencing significant drops in participation due to abuse from players, coaches, and crowds.
Mr Lamb said the AFL Sapphire Coast did everything it could to keep umpires safe, and encouraged young umpires to have a go.
"We always assure that we appoint umpires appropriate to their ability, we don't go throwing people into a match they aren't capable of managing," he said.
"The most important thing to remember is a lot of the yelling and cheering isn't personal, and a lot of it is part of the game.
"Nobody wants to see undue abuse of umpires - we are human, and we won't get everything right, because it's a very complex game.
"For young people, umpiring is a good chance to stay fit, be part of a team, and satiate your passion for the sport."
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