When it comes to VAFA umpiring, Hannah Bailes is all in as vice-president of the VAFAUA, a field umpire and an active member of the BJS Women’s Umpiring Academy.
While working together on the latest Women’s Umpiring Academy initiative, One Foot Forward: The Walk for Mental Health, Hannah caught up with the VAFA’s Mikala Sykes to discuss her experience and love for umpiring.
Why did you get involved in umpiring?
My dad was an umpire and some friends at school were getting involved so I thought I’d give it a go.
What do you do outside of umpiring?
I’m a swimming teacher and I also play and coach cricket.
Why should young girls and women get involved in umpiring?
It’s a great way to meet new people and stay fit while earning some extra cash too! It’s also nowhere near as intimidating as it may seem, and there are now more women of all ages joining umpiring each year.
What makes the umpiring experience so great?
The little community of umpires just makes the experience so special and so many memories are made over the years. Umpiring also gives you a different perspective on football.
What makes the VAFA such a great place to umpire and why should aspiring umpires come here?
Umpires are really looked after and respected throughout the VAFA, especially by the teams you have that week. The coaching is really in depth and training is always fun.
Who are the role models in your life? Do you have any in umpiring?
I love watching Brett Rosebury umpire as I feel like the respect the players have toward him is inspiring. There is a mutual level of respect from both parties and it is great to watch.
What is it about the VAFA environment both at training and matchday that makes the experience worth it?
Everyone is extremely welcoming and respectful. Players, coaches, umpire coaches and other umpires – it is a really safe and fun environment to be a part of. I have had a lot of fun getting to know everyone around the track and have reunited with a couple of old friends. I love the support that has been given by the committee and the UA as a whole.
Why should you join the VAFA Women’s Umpiring Academy?
Because it is a great support system that will offer invaluable experiences. There has been a lot of time and effort put into organising the academy and the whole VAFA community gets behind it to show support. It shows how women are really valued by the amount of effort they’ve put into growing female involvement in the VAFA.