AFL news 2023: Story behind viral umpire photo revealed

The footy world cannot get enough of Darwin teenager Tobias Jenner.

It’s not often that the Cazalys Representative Footy Weekend is the centre of the footy world, but one photo of Jenner in action is suddenly one of the hottest topics of conversations across social media.

The 16-year-old from Darwin High School was seen performing his regular role as a boundary umpire during the showdown between the Territory Buffaloes and WAFL giants South Fremantle at TIO Stadium last month when a perfect photo was snapped by AFL photographer Patch Clapp.

It’s easy to see why the photo has gone nuts recently with Jenner seen performing the sort of moves normally reserved for Cirque du Soleil performances as he throws the ball back into play.

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The photo has more than 6000 likes on one Facebook fan group and a photo shared by AFL social media channels also had more than 4000 likes.

The photo is going viral again this week after it was shared on the NT Football with Jackson Clark Facebook page.

The Grade 11 student has now explained his impressive form in the photo is the simple result of him doing his best to throw the ball as deep into the field as he can.

A regular senior-level umpire with around 60 games under his belt, Jenner is no novice when it comes to throwing the ball in — and has made it a focus to use his legs as part of the action to hurl the ball back into play.

“I just try and use my legs more,” Jenner said.

“I remember that particular one, I’d been doing a lot of running and getting really tired, so I just jumped to give me that extra height.”

Football is not supposed to be the thing that Jenner is making headlines for.

He says he only began umpiring around the age of 12 in order to keep fit during the hockey off-season.

The promising mid-fielder is already playing senior A-Grade hockey.

For now, at least, Jenner is going to be best known for his exploits around the boundary line.

The messages of support and thanks have been streaming in recently and it is even distracting some of the players in the NTFL Premier League when they come across the umpire on the field.

“It’s really cool actually,” he said.

“I got so much support when it first kind of went viral on Facebook. I didn’t know about it until I went to hockey and then someone told me this picture of you went viral.

“There were just some random people saying thanks for being an umpire.”

There’ll be plenty more saying thanks when Jenner steps back on the field to umpire the first round of the NTFL finals this weekend.

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