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Four up-and-coming SMJFL umpires have been offered a fantastic opportunity as part of Umpire Appreciation Round in the AFL this weekend.

Peter Bailes, Siobhan Halford, Ruby Martin and Connor Vaux will be part of the AFL Umpiring Experience at the MCG on Saturday night for the Richmond-Geelong match.

Peter, Siobhan, Ruby and Connor will walk on to the MCG pre-match with the officiating AFL umpires. One of them will carry the match ball and hold it aloft to notify the timekeepers that the umpires have entered the arena.

They can then warm up with the AFL umpires and one lucky SMJFL umpire will supervise the toss of the coin involving the Richmond and Geelong captains. If you’re watching the match on Channel 7, keep a look out for the SMJFL umpiring uniform at this point!

The purpose of this AFL Umpiring Experience is to create awareness of the role of junior umpires in local football; to provide young umpires with the opportunity to experience an AFL game day; and to provide incentive and motivation for young umpires to stay involved and aspire to AFL umpiring.

Umpire Appreciation Round is an opportunity for players, coaches and spectators to reflect on, and express, how important umpires are to the game they love, and that everyone has a part to play in ensuring the game is run fairly and safely.

The SMJFL asks:

– Coaches and umpires to shake hands prior to the game out on the ground and players and umpires shake hands after the game;

– Clubs to acknowledge the umpires at your after-match functions and coaches to acknowledge them in their after-match addresses to players; and

– Clubs to display the ‘Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’ poster if you have them.

The SMJFL also thanks NAB for its support of our junior umpires in its role as SMJFL Umpiring Partner.

Please see the media release below from the AFL in regards to ‘Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’:

The AFL wishes to advise that the ‘Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’ campaign will feature in Round Six of the Toyota AFL Premiership season.

The Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’ campaign aims to communicate the following key messages:

• Raise awareness for the need to create a better, more positive match day environment for umpires, particularly at grassroots level where are there are issues with recruitment and retention rates of umpires.

• Demonstrate to the football community that at the AFL level, umpires, players, coaches, fans, administrators and officials can work together for the good of the game to make the match day environment as inclusive and enjoyable as possible for all the participants.

• Provide the AFL community with a greater understanding and appreciation for the role of umpires at all levels of our game.

Formerly AFL Umpires Manager, Jeff Gieschen’s role has expanded to National Umpires Manager and he is encouraging participants at all levels of Australia’s game to take responsibility for their behaviour on match day.

“It is our view that at the AFL level the match day environment is as good as we can recall with a healthy level of respect and professional working relationships in existence between coaches, players, umpires and officials.

“Unfortunately this appears not to be the case at some local and junior competitions and the key reason why many umpires dropout of umpiring is because of the poor match day environment and negative behaviors towards them.

“Latest statistics reveal that there are around 19,000 umpire appointments required weekly across Australia during the season, however there are only approximately11,000 accredited umpires to fill those appointments.

“Umpires get involved because they love Australia’s game, just like players, coaches, fans and we need to make the match day environment inclusive and respectful so that umpires can continue to enjoy it and retention rates improve,” said Mr Gieschen.

In recognition of the ‘Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’ campaign, at every AFL match during Round Six there will be four junior umpires dressed in their local umpiring uniform leading the AFL umpires onto the ground at the start of the match.

One of the junior umpires will hold the ball up to signify to the time keepers that the umpires have entered the arena and will also accompany an AFL senior umpire to oversee the toss of the coin.

All senior AFL coaches will shake hands with AFL umpires on field prior to the game.

A number of other activities will take place during Round Six to mark the Umpiring is Everyone’s Business campaign, supported by OPSM, the official sponsor of AFL Umpires.

Please click on the following link to view the Umpiring Is Everyone’s Business’ campaign vision package: Opens external link in new window