UMPIRES EARN THEIR STRIPES
Umpires have key role in game’s future
AS age, injury and relocation affected the umpires of the Lower South West Football League, the whistle blowers added a few more to their ranks as they embraced a period of transition this season.
Under new AFL-mandated rules, umpires at all levels have to be accredited or working towards their umpire accredication.
League umpire coach Hayden Rice said while the accreditation process had initially caused some disruption, it would in the end provide a better brand of football with stronger umpiring.
Amidst the changes sweeping through umpiring groups throughout the country, the LSWFL remained positive as they welcomed about five new umpires to their cohort.
“This season has been a defining time for umpiring in the local area,” Hayden said.
“We haven’t seen an injection of so many umpires into our league for many years.
“They guys who have put their hand up are good ambassadors for the game, they were involved in the game as ex-players or long-term involvement in their own clubs so they’ve recognised the need for more umpires.”
Anthony East has joined the umpiring ranks and he credits the proactive approach of people like Hayden for making his introduction and accreditation easy.
“Umpiring is a good way of giving back to the sport,” Anthony said.
Hayden added it was the good work of the previous umpire coach Jeff Bennett that gave the umpiring community in the region a good foundation before the period of transition began.
“We’ve had to extend that work from an inner group to go out and find other people to come into the group,” Hayden said.
“People like umpire regional development Glenn Omodei have done a good job of that from Bunbury.” When the LSWFL has not been able to fill umpiring spots in the league games, umpires have been sourced from Bunbury, Mandurah and Perth, which Hayden said would be a recurring trend.
“We’ve prospered from that because they’re getting the experience and us local umpires are like players,” Hayden said.
“When you get too old, you slow down and you can’t keep up, you either drop back into a lower grade or retire.”
Hayden added that the league’s high playing participation rate in football worked against them when looking to recruit umpires because potential umpires were playing the game.
Anthony added the benefits of joining on as an umpire was still being involved in the game, learning new skills, learning more about football, keeping fit and meeting new people.
“If we don’t start training up umpires, soon we’re not going to have any available at a local level,” he said.
Hayden encouraged people interested in becoming an umpire to let the office bearers in their clubs know or get in touch with the umpiring fraternity.
“In developing these umpires, we ask clubs not to go over the top with abuse because we lose umpires as soon as we get them,” he said.
During a year of transition for the Lower South West Football League's umpires, the umpire coach Hayden Rice presents Anthony East with his AFL-accredited umpiring level one certificate.