We sat down with South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) Umpires Head Coach Cam Watts to find out the positives in umpiring, the challenges and plenty more on the back of Community Umpiring Round.
SMJFL: How long have you been involved in grassroots umpiring for and what most do you like about your role as Umpire Head Coach?
Cam Watts: I’ve been involved in grassroots umpiring for six years now (second year coaching and first year as head coach). The thing I like most about the head coach role is observing and aiding in the development of our up and coming umpires. Also, watching their progression as the season and years go by.
SMJFL: What do you find as the positives in being an umpire from the feedback you’ve received from our boys and girls?
CW: There are many positives in being an umpire that make it make me always recommend taking it up when I get asked ‘what kind of starting job should my son/daughter look into?’ Some of these positives include increased fitness levels, more effective and efficient communication skills (especially with adults), leadership skills, a bit of professionalism that can align with later jobs and of course a bit of pocket money to name only a few.
SMJFL: What are the significant challenges that comes with recruiting, training and managing umpires?
CW: I believe the main challenge is the massive amount of umpires we have! While it is excellent for the league as a whole, at times it can be difficult to see, observe and coach everyone individually with one-on-one contact time. However, this year we have larger coaching panel who are doing an excellent job with our young umpires at training and on match-day. So while it’s a challenge it’s something that we are definitely taking on well.
SMJFL: How hard do the umpires train?!
CW: [Laughs] Having played and trained for football and also as an umpire, I can safely say that umpires train extremely hard. There is a lot of gut running and repeat efforts involved in our training, especially in the pre-season. There is very rarely an umpiring training session that doesn’t make someone sweat!
SMJFL: What is the umpiring experience you have had personally?
CW: Personally, I’ve been at the SMJFL for 6 years. I’ve umpired senior football for the SUA for 2 years, senior football for the Souther Football & Netball League (SFNL) for one year, was a VFL rookie in 2015 and now currently on the VFL development list doing TAC cup and VFL women’s matches.
SMJFL: Are we seeing a positive uptake in kids deciding to umpire? What more can we do as a league?
CW: Absolutely we are. Every year that I’ve been a part of the SMJFL the league’s numbers in terms of players and umpires is increasing which is tremendous. We are one of the largest bodies in Victoria and it’s great to be a part of. I believe the league is in a really good position and the current and past bodies at head office have held the league in good stead for the next few years.
SMJFL: On the back of Community Umpiring Round, what message would you like to send to any budding umpires out there in the South-East?
CW: For any kids out there who are on the verge to have a go at umpiring or earn a bit of pocket money come on down to training and we will make you feel welcome! We train every Wednesday night from 4:45-6:00pm at Moorleigh Reserve in East Bentleigh and we would love to have more numbers come down to training and be a part of it! Umpiring is a great way to make friends, stay active and learn all the skills needed to communicate with others in the workplace and outside the football field too!