June 12, 2012
A junior Australian Rules football district in Perth is using a range of new weapons to fight a declining in the number of umpires.
From the 30 umpires that began umpiring in the East Fremantle district last year, only 16 have continued umpiring into their second year.
The district’s umpires coach Russell Masters said there had been a consistent drop off in umpire numbers in recent years.
Masters said that, on average, the number of umpires who dropped out after their first year was about 50 per cent.
“There’s a lot of reasons why first year umpires choose not to continue but the main reasons are … umpire abuse from coaches and even parents on the sideline,” Masters said.
West Australian Amateur Football League umpire Curtis Snadden began umpiring in the East Fremantle district in 2008.
Snadden said he enjoyed umpiring early on but did consider quitting after his first year.
“It was very different from being part of a team,” he said.
“I was now all by myself umpiring a game of footy.
“It can be quite daunting.”
Masters said he hoped a ‘Green Shirt’ program for first year umpires and a ‘match day environment points system’ would keep more umpires in the game, but it would take a while to get results.
Under the Green Shirt program, new umpires wear a green-coloured shirt to indicate they are learning how to umpire the game. Under the program, new umpires are mentored by an experienced umpire.
The match day environment points system was introduced to allow umpires to indicate a score based on how positive or negative the crowd and coaches were at the ground they umpired at.
Once the umpire has filled out a form it gets sent to the league, and clubs are either rewarded or punished for their score.
East Fremantle Sharks player Rick Wallis said umpires played a difficult but pivotal role in the game, and “could probably be praised more and rewarded with incentives” for their efforts.