Veteran AFL Field umpire Dean Margetts travelled to Esperance and Kalgoorlie and a few weeks later 2011 AFL Grand Final boundary umpire Nathan Doig was accompanied by AFL Goal Umpire Matt Laycock on a development trip to Geraldton.
The program, which has been running for several years, provides AFL umpires the opportunity to impart their highly developed skills, knowledge and experiences to the regional football community.
It also puts a human face to the AFL umpire as they deliver the AFL message that “Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’’
Margetts, 37, is entering his 11th season as an AFL Field umpire, which has included umpiring AFL Finals.
Margetts, said that even he had dismissed the importance of umpires in the past.
“Then I remember once, as a kid in the under 13s, an umpire didn’t turn up and one of the dads had to umpire. By the look on every player’s face the message was clear that it wasn’t a real game without the umpire in his whites with black socks,” Margetts said.
“From that day forward I have firmly believed we must all take responsibility to ensure we have enough trained umpires who also look the part.”
The AFL umpires conducted development sessions for the respective local regional umpire groups, and also shared their experiences with students at Nagle Catholic College and the Clontarf Midwest Football Development Academy.
WAFC Regional Umpiring and Game Integrity Manager Tim Priest also presented on the opportunities and challenges for Sport Officiating at the Midwest Department of Sport and Recreation breakfast attended by a variety of local sporting bodies.
Priest, who travelled to each of the road show destinations to support the AFL umpires said the message is clear and simple.
“We all have a part to play to assist our game including the standard of umpiring. Umpire coaches have a role to coach umpires to protect players, especially paying free kicks for head high contact.
“Player Coaches must instil in their players a discipline to respect the umpire, so as to retain the umpires. Finally, League and club officials have a duty to ensure that together they deal with unacceptable spectator behaviour,” he said.
Priest added that the other important message was to impress upon regional umpires to make use of technologies such as AFL DVD’s, law books and the AFL community club website, which has fantastic weekly ‘what’s your decision’ footage.
“Unlike years ago, regional WA umpires are no longer isolated in the sense that they can use teleconferences, websites and accreditation material to improve their umpiring,” Priest said.
“It’s not too dissimilar to the challenges faced by WA based AFL umpires, with their head umpire coaches based across the other side of the country, in Melbourne.”