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By Ben Pollard  

Ben Sheridan made his SMJFL debut last Sunday.

He wore green, and was involved in a great game of Under 9s footy.

Ben plays for Highett, but before you start wondering, they haven’t changed their junior colours to green.

Oh, and Ben is 12 years old. He’s been playing in the SMJFL since he was eight.

If it sounds like Ben would have really been taking charge of those Under 9s, that’s exactly the case.

He was making his umpiring debut.

Ben admitted he was a little nervous before his first game in green, but once the first whistle was blown those nerves faded away.

“My favourite part was probably calling the free kicks and feeling confident, and being in charge,” he said.

With only one practice match under his belt, Ben relied on the tutelage of his umpiring mentor with the SMJFL, Ron Walsh.

“I have a good mentor. He taught me about my positioning; just getting a little bit closer to the play,” he said.

When asked whether umpires need to be as fit as footy players, Ben showed he had listened to his mentor’s teachings.

“When you’re in the right position, you don’t really have to run as far,” he said.

Ben definitely runs though.

He will both umpire and play in SMJFL games every Sunday this season, and does specific training for each discipline.

With such fitness at a young age, Ben could potentially follow either path into a future career.

But at the moment, he finds it hard to pick between winning free kicks and paying them.

“I really love them both. It’s just good fun, good for fitness,” he said.

“I love football, it’s my favourite sport.”