Umpire Glen Gibbs watches the action in the game between Easts Redbirds and Norths at Baxter Field in Lismore on Saturday.
Umpire Glen Gibbs watches the action in the game between Easts Redbirds and Norths at Baxter Field in Lismore on Saturday. MARC STAPELBERG

Umpire enjoys new role

AFTER blowing the whistle on nearly 30 years of refereeing soccer, the last thing you would expect is someone to pull on a blue shirt and start umpiring baseball.

But that’s what Glen Gibbs did three years ago and it seems to have been a seamless transition.

“I’m really enjoying it,” he said.

“It’s a huge challenge to get your head around it; the rules in baseball can be so technical.”

Gibbs, 44, of Wollongbar, was not just any old soccer referee – he is arguably the best the region has produced.

He reached the level of assistant referee in the old National Soccer League, is a life member of the Far North Coast Referees’ Association, has the local referee of the year trophy named in his honour, and remains chair of the Northern NSW referees’ standing committee.

“I’d been at it for 30 years and had reached the point where I wasn’t really enjoying it any more,” Gibbs said, adding that the abuse of younger referees remained a big problem in soccer’s attempts to attract officials.

“Young refs need support and they don’t always get it”

So why baseball?

“My two sons, Jordan (18) and Bryce (15), play for Marist Brothers, so I decided to jump in and have a go at it (umpiring),” Gibbs said.

“I went straight into baseball and never really missed the soccer because of that.

“I started umpiring juniors and lower- grade seniors then out of necessity was first appointed to Major League games last year.

“I’ve had good support from (fellow umpires) Julian Sexton and Paul Latta.”

Gibbs said he had developed a genuine interest in the sport they play on a diamond after all those seasons on a soccer pitch.

“Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees,” he said of making the change.



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