Former AFL goal umpire Sergio Villagra was presented with his life membership at the NSWUA appointment night in Nth Sydney on Tuesday night.
AFLUA President, Chris Kamolins and Michael Saunders combined to make this a memorable presentation to Sergio who retired from umpiring in 2013. Sergio became an associate member in 2014 and was voted in as a life member in February this year.
“Last night I was on cloud nine,” effused Sergio when we spoke with him today. “It took me back in time and I relived many memorable moments in my career.” Sergio walked away from umpiring after retiring at the end of 2013. However, he returned this year to help mentor and coach the NSW community and NEAFL goal umpires in a voluntary capacity. “I keep telling my guys, if I can do it given my background, anyone can.” Sergio had never seen an AFL game until he arrived in Sydney to live and immediately fell in love with the game. He arrived from Chile as an 11 year old in 1985. He saw his first game in 1995, decided to take up umpiring in 1999 when a work colleague suggested he have a go and three years later was offered a contract by the AFL. Sergio umpired 131 AFL games between 2002 and 2013. Indeed until last year he held the record for the most number of AFL games umpired by a NSW/ACT based AFL umpire. For the last 5 years on the list he was the only listed goal umpire in NSW and his coach Colin Larter was based in Canberra. He was really responsible for his own coaching and development.
“I loved being part of Michael Saunders journey towards his first grand final in 2013. I never umpired a final but my journey was full of wonderful people who remain my friends today. It was fantastic to be part of a great group of people.” Sergio has put his hand up to continue to support goal umpires in NSW next year with a very simple philosophy, “It’s not about me, it’s about them and how good they can be.”
Pictured: AFLUA President Chris Kamolins, newly inducted life member Sergio Villagra, and AFL Boundary Umpire Michael Saunders