Hawes takes whistle, heads north

By Kyabram Free Press

KYABRAM’s Connor Hawes is currently cooling his heels in quarantine in hot Darwin, awaiting his chance to officiate as a central umpire in the Northern Territory Football League this season.

He is in his second week of quarantine at the Howard Springs detention centre with fellow Goulburn Valley Umpires Association umpire Sam Wood, preparing for the Northern Territory Football League season to kick off on October 3.

Connor, 19, made the move north to further his umpiring experience after COVID-19 ended those ambitions in Victoria for at least this season.

He had been trialling to get into the VFL umpiring system earlier this year when the season was cancelled along with the rest of the major senior leagues in the state.

Starting as a boundary umpire with the GV Umpires Association as an 11-year-old, Connor has progressed to be one of the most promising umpires in the association.

He got his first senior central umpiring gig as a 17-year-old in a Kyabram League encounter between Nagambie and Merrigum two years ago. Last year Connor officiated in 26 senior games throughout the Murray Goulburn football region, including 13 senior GVL games.

While his is a talented footballer and cricketer, Connor’s sporting focus is firmly on his umpiring career.

‘‘I’m really loving it and keen to improve,’’ said Connor, who is still able to work for an accounting business in Melbourne while in Darwin.

Connor said he would be in Darwin until December, before hopefully returning to Victoria to continue trialling with the VFL umpires for next season — if COVID-19 restrictions are eased by then.

Sam Wood will officiate for his second year in the Top End competition.

He has also taken the role as NT development coach after being an assistant coach last year when he landed a central umpire position in the competition's grand final.