Dream within reach as umpire prepares for senior AFL debut

WARRNAMBOOL umpiring export David Harris is one step closer to realising his lifelong dream of umpiring a senior AFL game.

The 27-year-old was elevated to the senior umpire list on Wednesday night after spending the first half of the year in the rookie ranks.

Harris said it was a surreal moment when the call came through.

“It was unbelievable and exciting all in one hit,” he told The Standard.

“I couldn’t figure out if it was real or I was dreaming.”

Harris said officiating at a senior AFL level had been a long-term goal since he began central umpiring with the Warrnambool umpires’ association in 2001.

“After I got into the swing of things I decided I wanted to take it as far as I could. So this is really a dream come true.”

Harris has been on the AFL rookie list since the beginning of the year after just missing outright selection.

His elevation came after veteran umpire Stefan Grun retired due to injury.

Harris has been sitting in on AFL umpire training every Wednesday night, as well as regular VFL umpire training on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

He has officiated 66 VFL senior matches, 21 VFL reserves and 25 TAC Cup games, plus the recent Victoria versus Tasmania state game. He also officiated last year’s VFL grand final.

Harris said he would approach AFL games as he would any other.

“At the end of the day it’s still a game of footy. There is obviously a bit more scrutiny with the media and TV, and a few more people around the ground, but the rules are the same.”

He hopes to officiate his first AFL match next week.

“I was rostered off from the VFL this week to give me a chance to freshen up for the last bit of the season, so the AFL have given me the weekend off as well. Hopefully from next weekend it will be all systems go.”

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