Cricket Umpires Australia
Cricket Australia umpire doing it for the kid
Victorian umpire David Shepard dreams of umpiring at the top level in front of his son, Louis.
David Shepard is striving hard for a First-Class umpiring debut.
Everybody who dons the blue shirt and the white wide-brimmed hat wants to reach the highest heights, but for David aspirations are different.
All David wants is for his son to see him ply his trade in the middle of the MCG; while he can.
David’s five-year-old son Louis was born with Usher Syndrome – a genetic condition characterised by the loss of hearing and gradual loss of vision.
"Louis was born profoundly deaf, he has a balance disorder that he was born with and he is slowly losing his vision, he’s five and (his sight) is starting to go, probably by the time he is ten he will have really small tunnel vision,” David said.
The illness can sometimes be limiting, but for Louis picking up a cricket ball is as normal as breathing, emulating his father who was a former Victorian Bushranger.
The emerging umpire played one First Class match for Victoria in the 1998/99 season; a decade before Louis arrived, but David is focused on returning to his former home ground as an official.
“I hope it’s something he will be proud of and I am hoping I do get that opportunity while he still has vision good enough to see me out there.
“I think it’s a good thing for him to see anybody succeed in life, it’s a good example for him to pursue his own dreams.”
Part of Cricket Australia’s Project Panel - the program targets former players who want to try their hand at umpiring – David joined former players-turned-officials Paul Reiffel and Rod Tucker.
A positive for the Shepard family was Cricket Australia’s inaugural All Abilities Championship that showcased competitive blind and deaf cricket in a national tournament, at which David umpired to provide Louis some cricketing motivation.
“It was really good, it was a different atmosphere on the ground … deaf people communicate in different ways so it was quite quiet out there but some really good cricket went on.”
“This is fantastic exposure for him because he gets to see adults who have got conditions like his or similar to his competing at the highest levels, he has role models he can now look up to.”
For David, any match he officiates in will be a step in the right direction to achieving his dream, in turn encouraging his son to reach for the same heights.
“All I want is for (Louis) to just accomplish whatever his dreams are, he is doing great things now and his speech is coming along beautifully, he is coping with his disabilities and I want to see him have an excellent life of his choosing.”
To read more about Louis' and the Shepard family's story visit www.louislookingforward.com