Throughout May’s AFL Community Umpiring Week, the AFL Umpiring Department conducted three activities to promote umpiring and members of community umpiring groups had the opportunity to engage in some of these activities.
These initiatives were:-
- AFL Umpire Experience – conducted at IKON Park led by Peter Schwab, Hayden Kennedy, Adam Davis and the AFL Umpiring Coaches on Tuesday 2 May
- Community Umpiring Visits by AFL Umpires throughout the week starting 1 May &
- Leading AFL Umpiring Panels on to the grounds of the May 7 – 8 weekend of games at the MCG or Etihad Stadium.
What follows is an account of the AFL Umpire Experience written by Western Region Football League field umpire Noah Piggott
“On the 2 May of this year, I attended an AFL Umpire Experience training night along with 108 umpires (field/boundary/goal) from 16 community umpiring groups from across the state. Throughout the night we were spoken to and led by Peter Schwab, Hayden Kennedy, Adam Davis and the other AFL Umpiring Department Coaches.
From a field umpire’s point of view this night gave me many insights into how the system works in the AFL and what they do week in week out.
We had meetings at the start of the night and then split in our respective discipline-specific groups and trained hard – being led by the AFL Umpire Coaches. The training session included analysing coaching vision in the coaching theatre and the other half was out on the track learning new skills to improve our umpiring.
A few of the umpires attended the night to help us with skills that supported the community umpires management and positioning within the end zone. Other activities included emphasising the need to run our angles attempting to maintain a side-on decision-making position and skirting the packs to identify whether any free-kicks should be awarded.
Overall this night was a tremendous experience and a good taste of what the AFL coaching sessions include and the intensity and work-rate required to umpire at the elite level.”
Noah Piggott – Western Region Football League Umpires
The second and much-appreciated initiative was arranging the AFL umpires to visit local community umpiring training sessions where they engaged with local members. Most were eager to engage in the delivery of on-track training sessions and also address the local members with regards to pathways, past experiences and question and answer sessions.
These are such valuable visits that allow the community umpires to engage with the elite boundary, field and goal umpires from the AFL that provide inspiration and encouragement for all community umpires – no matter what their age.
The opportunity for community umpires to lead AFL umpiring panels onto the MCG or Etihad Stadium proved to be a popular initiative. In 2017 members of the Yarra Ranges Umpires Association and the Gippsland Umpires Association had the opportunity of meeting the respective AFL umpiring panels pre-game, join in the on-ground warm-up and then lead the AFL panel on to the MCG on both Saturday 7 May and Sunday 8 May.
Not often do young community umpires get provided with this tremendous opportunity – one that is so appreciated by the eager participants year after year.
Please see photographs of the very proud members of the Yarra Ranges UA enjoying their time engaging with the umpires pre-game on 7 May at the Carlton v Collingwood blockbuster and members of the Gippsland UA engaging with the umpires and club captains at the Melbourne v hawthorn game at the ‘G on Sunday 8 May.
Community Umpiring Round – List of strategies for implementation by community Umpiring Groups together with Regional Commission / Football League staff
We again strongly encourage all AFL Victoria affiliated leagues to work with their local umpires to embrace this Round to continue creating positive match day environments recognising the importance of umpiring in our great game.
Originally, the “Umpiring is Everyone’s Business Campaign” was designed to further educate the football public about the important roles and responsibilities umpires have in the game of Australian Football.
The Campaign focused on using influential people within Australian Football to advocate positively about umpiring and for all participants within our game to take responsibility for their behaviour on match day.
Supported by the AFL Players’ Association and AFL Coaches’ Association, the campaign was geared towards the football public increasing their understanding of the role and importance of and appreciation of the umpires.
Some time ago, AFL Victoria developed a guide that lists strategies and outlines how umpiring groups can implement these procedures to maximise members’ enthusiasm and interest with the aim of retaining current members.
This resource is available by clicking AFL Umpiring Retention Initiatives Guide.