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Tuesday, 5th March, 2013

AFL umpire coach Luke Olsen is leading training sessions today. AFL umpire coach Luke Olsen is leading training sessions today.

By Emily Roberts

Local umpires were updated on all the new AFL rules last night during training sessions with AFL umpire coach Luke Olsen.

The umpiring development coordinator is also in the city today to conduct umpire coaching sessions at high schools.

Mr Olsen will also launch a development squad for the junior umpires, and local umpire Richard McLean has been appointed to run the program.

"The regional development squad will work closely with umpires in the senior football to develop their skills," Mr Olsen said.

"It will help the junior umpires develop quicker."

According to BH AFL Board Chairman, Peter Nash, the principal aim of the development squad is to provide a career path for new younger umpires.

"AFL nationally is investing significant resources into umpiring with new online accreditation modules for umpires to complete, before they are assessed," Mr Nash said.

"One program that has been highly successful nationally has beginner umpires wearing a green shirt," he said.

"This shirt sends a clear signal to players, coaches and spectators that the umpire is a trainee, and should be encouraged not criticised."

Mr Olsen said the work with the umpires last night was similar to their normal training sessions.

"We did some skill work, and learnt about the new law interpretations," Mr Olsen said.

He said from his last visit, he was able to attract some students to get involved with umpiring. He is hoping for a similar result this time.

"The skills are a bit more basic, we will work on signal positions and they will be able to umpire a game of Auskick," he said.

Mr Nash said there had been a number of rule changes.

"There are three new rules for 2013 but also several 'interpretation' changes which players and coaches need to understand.

"All local clubs have been supplied with a new DVD on the rules, and local umpires last week held education sessions with the North and West football clubs.

"The contact below the knee rule, while difficult for all players to understand, places a duty of care on all players not to cause injury to others."

Mr Nash said the second rule was designed to eliminate the mauling tactics of some ruckman.

"The third rule relates to the field umpire throwing the ball up around the ground, which is designed to speed up the game," he said.

The underlying goal of the laws committee is to keep the ball in motion, so any actions by players that are deemed to deny other players the opportunity to move the ball on will be penalised, according to Mr Nash.

"The underlying 'Spirit of the Laws' is still there in that the two primary focuses of an umpire are to ensure the game is played in a fair manner and played in a safe environment."

Players, coaches and supporters who want more information can search AFL law changes on YouTube.

The umpire coaching sessions will run at Broken Hill High School from 9am to 1.30pm.

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