UM­PIRES EARN THEIR STRIPES

Um­pires have key role in game’s fu­ture

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Tari Jef­fers

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.

Pic­ture: Tari Jef­fers

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.

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