Umpire registrations in Victoria have reached record numbers, and the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) is leading the way.
The SMJFL currently has 677 registered umpires who help officiate nearly 500 teams across the league every week, making up just over 9% of the total number of umpires across Victoria.
SMJFL Monarch Umpire Academy Manager Cameron Watts said it was a testament to the boys, girls, men and women who wear a whistle every Sunday.
“It’s amazing that we’re able to say that we’re the biggest umpiring group in the state by some distance,” he said.
“Since the introduction of the Monarch Umpire Academy, the league has really gone from strength to strength with retaining and recruiting umpires, to the point where we regularly see over 150 of them at training each week.
“There’s been a really positive increase in umpire registrations again this season. We’re very fortunate to have such a great partner in Monarch, who have helped us provide SMJFL umpires with fantastic apparel, coaches and resources to help them become the best umpires possible.”
Watts, a VFL umpire himself who began umpiring SMJFL matches, said there were many benefits to becoming an umpire.
“You get to be involved in the game and get paid, it’s a great way to stay fit and active, you learn a lot about working in teams and there are opportunities to extend beyond officiating junior football,” he said.
“We have a lot of younger umpires who also play at SMJFL clubs as well, so if you want to get involved in umpiring but are worried you have to give up playing junior footy, that certainly isn’t the case.”
There are currently five football leagues across the state with over 500 registered umpires.
Total Umpire Registrations in Victoria (as of June 18)
South Metro Junior Football League – 677
Essendon District Football League – 551
Eastern Football League – 525
Victorian Football Amateur Association – 523
AFL Barwon – 504
SMJFL Umpires involved in pathway programs:
AFL Rookie – Peter Bailes
Senior VFL Squad – Peter Bailes, Cameron Watts, Luke Porter, Matthew Crowley, Tayla Manning
Senior VFL Development Squad – Matthew Mahoney
VFL Development Squad – Nathan Guy, Darcy Trewarn, Jackson Gillespie, Hamish Mccartney, Joel Davis, Lachlan Menara, Patrick Aurish
VFL Rookie Squad – Nick Bergman, and Ryan Mann,
Mates Program – Alanah French
Former SMJFL AFL Umpires: Simon Meredith, Chris Donlon