Umpires’ visit flags game’s future

By Matt Malone
Updated November 7 2012 - 12:40am, first published February 25 2009 - 12:06pm
Umpires’ visit flags game’s future

CONTROVERSIAL AFL umpire Ray Chamberlain believes retention is the biggest challenge facing the game’s officials at grassroots level.The high-profile whistleblower was in Wagga yesterday as part of an AFL Umpiring Roadshow aimed at attracting new people to the role.For Chamberlain, it was a chance to relive one of his earliest memories of umpiring, when he travelled from Canberra to take charge of a Wagga Tigers v Turvey Park clash.After meeting with the Riverina Umpires Association and holding clinics around Wagga, Chamberlain is confident umpiring is headed in the right direction in the city.But he said the biggest issue facing umpiring, was keeping people involved in officiating.“There is no doubt umpiring naturally has issues in terms of recruitment,” Chamberlain said yesterday.“But there are a significant number of issues in terms of retention.“Generally speaking, if you get a hold of a group of kids, it’s not hard to get them involved.“But then it is crucial that you coach and that they get cuddled along with everything to keep them involved.”Chamberlain and AFL grand final boundary umpire Johnathon Creasey spent yesterday holding information sessions and coaching clinics at Wagga High, Kooringal High and Wagga Christian College.Chamberlain said the response from Wagga youngsters had been fantastic.“They’ve been sensational,” Chamberlain said.“They’ve asked a lot of questions and not stupid questions.“They’ve shown a real interest in the AFL brand and were courteous and had a real interest in umpiring, which is great.”Southern NSW AFL club and umpire development officer Luke Olsen believes the roadshow could have an immediate effect.“It’s been really good,” Olsen said.“Hopefully we will get new kids umpiring this season out of it.“Already I’ve had a couple of kids come straight up and ask how they get involved.“That just shows how quick it can create interest.”The two AFL umpires also held a coaching clinic with local kids with Down syndrome.

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