'Thanks Ump' Weekend
‘Thanks Ump’ weekend, which is part of the ongoing ‘Umpiring is Everyone’s Business’ campaign, encourages everyone to have a positive impact on match day at all levels of football to assist with recruiting and retaining umpires.
Often umpires are lost to the game due to poor environments consisting of abuse and intimidation. However, ‘Thanks Ump’ weekend aims to emphasise the responsibility we all have to create a positive football match day environment.
All VFL coaches will meet, greet and shake hands with the umpires in the centre of the ground before the first bounce to signal ‘Thanks Ump’ weekend.
Football grounds - at all levels from the AFL down - around the country will adopt a similar theme as the issue of accepting, respecting and appreciating umpires is embraced.
AFL Victoria State Director of Umpiring Kevin Mitchell said there was a need for recruiting not only young umpires, but also for the retention of current umpires for the game to continue to grow.
Greater awareness of this issue has been circulated not only around coaches and players, but also to the general football community so there can be a better understanding and respect of the umpire’s role.
“It’s not easy, it’s a very complex sport to umpire. There are 36 players on the field, a player may run across the umpire’s vision and he may miss a high tackle, but 50,000 people see it,” Mitchell said.
“Umpires don’t go out to make mistakes, but at the end of the day, the nature of the game is that mistakes will be made.
“At the end of the day we’re all in it to enjoy it.”
AFL Director of Coaching Peter Schwab reinforced that umpires at all levels are essential to the game.
“Umpires have a huge responsibility to the game, in particular at junior level where their capacity to control the game is paramount to the enjoyment and safety of all young participants,” Schwab said.
AFL Victoria Umpire Development Manager Neville Nash said the significance of ‘Thanks Ump’ allowed the football community to recognise the role umpires played.
Nash said the one point he reinforced whenever he spoke to students or teachers or groups is that umpiring IS part of the game.
He said it needed to be understood that umpires are not separate from other aspects. “We are all part of the one great game.
“If we don’t get all those groups – coaches, players, volunteers, supporters and umpires – working together then we don’t have a game.
“I just believe people need to recognise the role umpires play by participating, and they participate because they love the game as well as everyone else.”