Editorial: VAFA Umpires Round

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Umpires

Brett Connell – VAFA CEO

This week has been Community Umpiring Week across Victoria, with umpires at all levels celebrated.

The initiative by the AFL, and supported via our state body AFL Victoria, allows us to focus on the “other team” that takes the field every Saturday without fanfare, at times very little acknowledgement and on all occasions are out there doing their very best – the Umpires.

In 2018 the VAFA has 516 registered umpires across all three disciplines (field, boundary and goal -which includes Club Umpires), 168 of these are new VAFA Umpires.

The appointment of Haydn O’Connor (VAFA Manager – Umpire Operations in January) has driven new and exciting recruitment initiatives, none moreso than the links with the SMJFL and YJFL, whereby each Monday the SMJFL Academy joins the VAFAUA at Elsternwick Park for training and coaching sessions and the ongoing partnership with the YJFL in providing pathways for young developing umpires. The VAFA also has strong pathway links to the AFL, AFLW, VFL, VFLW, TAC and TAC Girls – where we currently have 18 umpires on the AFL Victoria list, 2 AFL rookies and a further 13 on the AFL roster.

The VAFAUA continue to provide a first class environment for training, coaching and development across all divisions. There is a distinctly welcoming and social atmosphere with the VAFA Umpires group, which is partially driven my the large numbers, but is also a result of the commendable leadership of Owen Hinson and his committee. This positive environment is reflected in the VAFAUA’s excellent umpire retention rates.

The VAFA also realises just how important having a focus on umpiring is that we have a dedicated Umpires sub-committee headed up by Board Member Nigel Credlin, with VAFA Administration reps and Merv Monty from the VAFAUA. The focus of this group takes in all aspects of umpiring with key short term and long term strategies related to the discipline of umpiring. Some of these goals are as follows:

In the short-term we aim to increase our marketing of the “New Era” of umpiring; promote the new facilities at EP; advertise our new administration and our united VAFA/VAFAUA approach; promote the Junior competition alignment and development of pathways (e.g. SMFJL/VAFA combined weekly training night); and to establish a new social media presence as ‘VAFA Umpires’ to improve engagement and reach.

In the long term we have set targets, aimed to be reached by 2021. This includes 150 new (100 women) umpires; The production and establishment of a High Performance Program; the implementation of an Umpire Welfare Program and a new Umpire Coaching/Administration Structure.

Umpiring in the VAFA is a focus, for not only the benefits provided to the VAFAUA members but also the on flow effect it has on our players, clubs and competition in general. This week has been an exciting time and celebration of umpiring, with some of the key initiatives that have been featured as follows:

SMJFL training with the VAFAUA at Elsternwick Park (Monday), the following (6) VAFA Umpires Jonathan Clark, Ben McCarthy (Field), Joel Bright, Cooper MacDonald (Boundary), Nick Obst and Luke Myatt (Goal) attended AFL Umpire training at Ikon Park to participate in training and coaching sessions (Tuesday), former VAFA and current AFL Umpires, Simon Meredith, Chris Donlon, Rob O’Gorman, Matt Jenkinson and Matt Dervan attended training at held a Q&A session at Elsternwick park (Wednesday) prior to the VAFAUA AGM.

Today we thank, recognise and celebrate the men and women who officiate in all VAFA matches and I ask you to do something off your own bat to recognise their role in our great game and wonderful competition.

Enjoy your weekend and see you at the footy.