Curtis Deboy will make his AFL debut this weekend when he takes control of the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide Crows match at Etihad Stadium.
Deboy moved to Melbourne at the end of 2014 after earning a place on the AFL Senior List for Season 2015. Curtis and his wife Kathy seem to have adjusted well to their new environment.
“Kathy and I have both loved it. It’s an adjustment, but it has been one that’s really positive. I can’t speak highly enough of the AFL and how the umpiring department and the umpires themselves have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.”
“There are a few other guys my age in the department…we all hang out and get along. That’s made it a lot easier as well. It has been a lot of fun.”
Ever since picking up the whistle, Deboy’s dream has always been to umpire AFL.
“I started umpiring at fourteen and all I wanted to do from that age was umpire AFL. I was pretty confident that if I gave everything and things went well for me that I’d be able to do it one day.”
Deboy’s reaction to hearing about his debut was one of relief followed by excitement.
“There’s always expectation, a bit of build up when you think that time might be coming. Then (there was) obviously excitement…I can’t wait for the weekend.”
“I guess you always wonder what your first game is going to be and how it’s going to come about. (I’m) just mainly looking forward to getting out there really. (There’s been) a lot of build up to it but I think once I get out there, I’ll enjoy it more than anything.”
Deboy could not be where he is today without the support of his dad, particularly during his early umpiring years.
“My dad (used to drive) me around everywhere before I had my license, so he used to be at every game, every training session. Every quarter and three-quarter time break (he would) come out with drinks for me and that sort of thing regardless of the weather…so he was amazing support.”
From an umpiring perspective Deboy acknowledges SANFL Umpires Manager Shane Harris as having a massive influence on his career.
“Shane has obviously given me a lot of great opportunities, he instructed me with a lot of big games, he gave me finals and my first Grand Final… so I have to say he had a massive influence.”
Curtis describes the week leading up to the match as being “pretty relaxed, pretty normal.”
“Work has been nice and busy which helps keep my mind off of it but it has been good to get lots of texts and phone calls from people back home.”
Deboy’s umpiring career began in 2004 at the Central Districts Junior football League with coach Terry Jeffery. In 2006, Deboy arrived at the SANFL Academy and was appointed the Under 17’s Grand Final the same year. Deboy’s rapid progression through SANFL ranks continued, officiating the Under 19’s Grand Final 2007 and Reserves Grand Final in 2009. Deboy made his League debut at the age of 19 and went on to officiate three consecutive League Grand Finals in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Among these achievements, Deboy is a dual-winner of the prestigious Golden Whistle, which recognised him the best Field Umpire in the SANFL in 2013 and 2014.
For the season ahead, Deboy looks forward to umpiring as much AFL footy as he can. “(I’ll) take my opportunities when they arise…I (just want) to end the season as a better umpire than what I was at the start.”
Deboy’s dedication, focus and passion for umpiring is admirable. We wish Curtis all the best for Sunday and a long and rewarding career.
Run well Curtis!
Author: James Merrett