There’s something about being an official – a crucial cog in successfully running any event – that makes Carlo Villanti tick.

The long-time Cronulla SLSC member began as a boardrider before transitioning into Surf Life Saving when his daughter was in Nippers.

“I nearly had a heart attack when she told me,” he mused.

Like any father, Carlo just wanted his daughter to be safe and to enjoy herself, investing himself further in the club, initially as an Age Manager.

“You just want to make sure everything runs smoothly for them so you do what you can to help,” he said.

“My daughter had a really good group which helped.”

Now, his focus is on the bigger picture – helping not just his daughter, but the entire competitor pool, big or small, to enjoy themselves when competing in surf sports events.

It’s a focus built from years of experience and finessing his craft and has developed over time to be flexible depending on which age group he is officiating.

“It’s important to remember who you’re dealing with really,” Carlo said.

“You’ve got to be smart, the Under 9s and 10s are all young and you’ve got to be assisting them and marshalling them in the right way.

“They’re nervous, you’ve just got to treat them like kids.

“If they don’t do it exactly right, go back and try again with them.”

Carlo’s approach will be called on once again at the 2022 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, where over the 12 days of competition he will act alongside Michael Day as the Deputy Referees to Michael Bate in the Age and Youth Championships.

Joining Peter Carney, he will also be Deputy Referee to Jenny Kenny in the Open Championships.

As volunteers, all of them will be working hard to ensure the Championships run smoothly – as they have done through their involvement in Surf Life Saving over many years.

“All the clubs are the same, there’s a Carlo at North Cronulla, there’s a Carlo at Manly – that’s the special thing about surf, everyone including myself wants the best for the kids and all the competitors.

“We all do our best to ensure everything goes well.

“Even with the newer officials, we will be as helpful as we can in guiding them, not make it hard, and not knock them on the head as they’re learning.”

Ultimately, though, Carlo is confident that the ingredients are there to make the 2022 NSW Championships one of the greatest ever.

“I think it’s a great location, a lot of thought has gone into it this year,” he said.

“Council is with us which is good and utilising Freshwater as well is a great move.

“The most important thing to me is running this carnival successfully and enjoying ourselves.

“I’ll curl myself over backwards to make sure it goes right.”

Monday 21 February 2022