Posted in Front Page News , Umpiring

This week the South Metro Junior Football League, along with the Australian Football League, celebrate the Community Umpiring Round in an effort to highlight how much fun can be had through umpiring community football. 

Every week the SMJFL has up to 200 young umpires honing their skills at umpire training and this week many of our umpires were treated to a visit from some of the AFL’s finest officials. 

At this week’s training the AFL sent several of their best field and boundary umpires out to the SMJFL umpire’s training in order to demonstrate their skills and impart some wisdom on the aspiring umpires. 

Boundary umpires Shane Thiele and Chris Gordon joined experienced field umpires Justin Schmidt and Simon Meredith at the training session. 

Meredith, a veteran of more than 200 AFL games was full of stories for the group as he is fresh from umpiring the last two AFL Grand Finals. The umpiring stalwart had some advice for the young umpiring charges harbouring elite umpiring ambitions. 

“It [the AFL] looks like a long way away from where they are here but if you just follow on with what you want to do, enjoy your umpiring and enjoy your time,” he said. “Just follow your dreams.” 

Once the ball is bounced this weekend it becomes just another game, but the lead up through the week for the Community Umpiring Round is special for Meredith. He is the blueprint for any local umpire looking to make it to the elite stage as he used to train just down the road at the Moorabbin Saints. 

“When the game starts it’s another round but in the build up we get to come out [to these community trainings],” said Meredith. “It makes you think of where you came from and how long it took you to get to the AFL – it’s really good to see the people where I used to be and encourage them on.” 

In addition to the community visits, there will be four young umpires who will have the exciting opportunity to lead Meredith’s umpiring troupe for Saturday night’s game out onto the ground. 

Four of our best first and second year umpires weren’t present as they were asked to attend umpire coaching at Visy Park, from current AFL umpire coaches, something held in high regard by the League. 

The SMJFL has several young guns making their way through the umpiring ranks with Ben Nicholson and Cai Davies currently in the VFL Development Squad as they officiate TAC Cup and AFL Vic Development games.