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AFLBH pays tribute to umpires

Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012

UMPIRING ROUND: AFLBH will pay tribute to game day officials this weekend. UMPIRING ROUND: AFLBH will pay tribute to game day officials this weekend.

This week AFL Broken Hill (AFLBH) will take part in Umpiring Round in honour of the officials who support our local competition. 

Umpiring Round encourages everyone involved in Australian Rules football - coaches, players, administrators, parents and supporters - to play a role in creating a positive match day environment.

At the community level, a welcoming environment ensures umpires feel supported to officiate to the best of their ability.

Each weekend there are 3800 umpiring appointments required in NSW/ACT, and many of these are filled by club umpires, mothers and fathers, just helping out for the day.

It is critical for football that the community works together to create a good atmosphere for the officials of the game, whether they are league-appointed or club umpires.

Often umpires are lost to the game due to the reception and abuse they receive from spectators and fans at matches. 

AFLBH will participate in a number of initiatives this weekend that will help improve the overall umpiring experience, including players and coaches shaking hands with umpires before the game. 

AFLBH Board Member responsible for umpires, Jan Corey, says that they should be made to feel welcome at matches.

“The old saying ‘no umpires, no game’ is relevant in most regional communities. We are one of the few country leagues that does not rely on a club-based volunteer umpiring roster,” said Ms Corey.

 “By shaking hands with the umpires before the game we are trying to create a level of respect for our local umpires.

“The Board is generally very happy with the way players conduct themselves during the games. However we have had three reports already in season 2012 for abusive language towards umpires.”

Sydney Swans’ coach John Longmire has thrown his support behind the initiative, saying that umpiring is important at all levels of football from Auskick to the elite level.

“Umpiring Round is a fantastic opportunity for everyone in the AFL community to recognise and appreciate the role that umpires play in our sport,” Longmire said.

“In order for AFL to thrive in NSW/ACT we need to show people that umpiring is a great sport to take up and that it is everyone’s business to ensure we recruit and retain umpires through our actions on match day.”

With participation rates booming across the country, the number of umpires needs to increase in order to meet the demand.

Anecdotal evidence is suggesting that the match day environment for umpires at community football is beginning to improve.  

In 2011, the number of umpires in NSW/ACT increased by eight per cent to a record 1142 umpires, coaches and mentors. The aim is to reach 2000 umpires by 2016 - which means a 15 per cent growth each season.

GWS Giants coach, Kevin Sheedy, says the AFL should remember that umpires are crucial to the future of the game.

“The importance of umpires is simple really - no umpires, no game,” he said.

“It is the most difficult job to do. As an umpire they create the game through their decisions.

“It’s fantastic to see the AFL developing young umpires to take this game forward into the next generation.”

A number of umpires around the country will also be wearing green shirts throughout the year to communicate to people that they are learning the game and need to be encouraged and supported.      

Everyone can play a role in creating a positive match day environment to ensure umpires, coaches, players and volunteers perform at their peak.

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