Deboy dreams of AFL stage

FIFTEEN-year-olds generally don't tell a bunch of grown-ups what to do.

But up-and-coming South Australian umpire Curtis Deboy was 15 when he got his first taste of senior football in the amateur league during his second year of umpiring.

At 19, he was selected to umpire in this year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships after showing promise at local level. He joined officials from around Australia for a week in Melbourne undertaking development activities with the AFL during the championships.

Deboy, who also umpired in last year's NAB AFL Under-16 carnival, says being in the heartland of football was an exciting experience that reinforced his aspirations of reaching the top level.

A highlight of the trip was training with the AFL umpires and gaining insight into their peer review process.

"My favourite [umpire] is Brett Rosebury. Just the way he's gone about everything that he's done. He got very close last year [to doing the AFL grand final], but he always picks himself up and is probably one of the most consistent out there," Deboy says.

"And being one of the younger guys, he seemed like a real leader with the way he conducted himself and spoke to the group."

Having self-belief and the courage of his convictions has helped Deboy to progress from umpiring junior football with Adelaide's Central Districts in 2004, to his first senior state league appointment between West Adelaide and Sturt this year. He has an impressive record of officiating in grand finals while climbing the ranks in his second, third and fourth years of umpiring.

"I looked really young, so I got a few strange looks when I went up to the ground every week," Deboy recalls of his first matches umpiring adults.

"For my first few rounds as a 15-year-old I was quite daunted but eventually you get used to that kind of pressure and adapt to it quite well. It was more of an enjoyable challenge than anything else."

Umpiring at Casey Fields and Docklands as part of the NAB Under-18 Championships put Deboy and his fellow umpires under an even brighter spotlight than usual, with AFL umpiring assistant coaches Peter Howe and 363-game umpire Bryan Sheehan observing and providing feedback. Current umpire Scott McLaren was also on hand to offer advice. 
Other highlights of Deboy's week included a leadership talk from AIS/AFL high performance coach and former Kangaroos footballer Jason McCartney and a live viewing of the E.J. Whitten Legends Game.

Deboy says, more than anything, the week reaffirmed his goals and gave him a clearer understanding of how to achieve them. His ultimate ambition is to do an AFL grand final.

"I've always got short-term and long-term goals in mind," Deboy says. "Obviously there's still a lot of work to do in the SANFL first, just establishing myself in league and getting to league finals as soon as I can.

"And then, once the opportunity arises, to capitalise on it and make the most of my trial if I get one."

This article was originally written by Chelsea Roffey for

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