G’day one and all and welcome to another weekend of footy & netball
Well, we are now nearly a third of the way through the season with some fantastic footy behind us.
The new rules introduced by the AFL for footy (and filtered down to AFL country footy) being the “stand” rule and the “15m mark” out from the goal square kick in from a behind seem to have been adopted well by the players and spectators with minimal major impact to country footy. Whilst the rules seem to have had a positive impact on footy being played on the ground, sadly, the “advice” coming from over the fence in relation to umpire’s performance has not been as positive.
We have noticed that with the advent of the greater concentration on the performance of umpires in the AFL that this now seems to be filtering down to local level footy with spectators seemingly feeling that they are entitled to voice their displeasure at a decision with an expletive loaded rant towards the umpires. Yes, we are happy to admit straight up that we will not get every decision right and we also know that not everyone is going to be happy with the decision made by the umpires for their team on the day but with some of the “carry on” from the side lines (and during breaks in footy), this is not going to help anyone, especially for the retention in umpiring in country footy.
The article written in The Standard last weekend (thank you Nick Ansell) highlighted this concern and he was right in that the continuing disrespect shown will not help the deteriorating numbers presently seen in footy umpiring. This will continue to drive people away from umpiring.
Despite this there have been some positives early in the season. Our early shortage of umpires has seen fast-tracking of several younger umpires, who to this stage have conducted themselves in a fantastic manner and have handled the transition to senior footy well. Our junior numbers have seen several younger boundary umpires also moving into the senior ranks and we hope that this will continue in the next few weeks. We have even had the opportunity to see our junior goal umpires progress quickly into senior footy. All of the above are success stories for the WDFUA, but are still in numbers insufficient to fill the gaps we have.
We are grateful for the leagues understanding on our lack of numbers to officiate all games and the need for the clubs to umpire a greater number of games (and even assisting with late notice, the filling in of boundary umpires) which ensures that all games have umpires in some capacity. We would ask that spectators also understand this shortage and have this in the back of their mind the next time they feel the need to give the umps “a spray”. Remember, if you are willing to get stuck into the umpire about their performance, are you also willing to step up and do the job yourself?
Enjoy the weekend of footy
President – WDFUA