Riddell Umpires are looking at different ways to try and attract and keep umpires ahead of the upcoming Riddell District Football League season.
Like many umpire associations, the Riddell Umpires has had its struggles with umpire numbers, while the need for umpires increases.
With a new president and a couple of new committee members, the association is doing what they can to address the issue.
New president Addam Icely has been umpiring since 2004 after a long playing career.
He said he wasn’t keen on just sitting back and having an opinion, so he decided to step up and take on the president’s role.
“I spoke to a few people about maybe stepping up and they thought it was a good idea,” he said. “There was the opportunity there with David [Hill] standing down.
“I’ve been umpiring as long as I played football now.”
Icely said that they were looking at all the usual ideas to get umpires on board, as well as some from left field.
He said he knows that there are plenty of challenges ahead, but is ready to take them on.
The association provides umpires for senior and junior matches in the Riddell District Football League, along with club 18 games and AFL Goldfields women’s and girls matches that fall in the playing region.
“We have a big turnover of numbers, but we’re not the only association,” he said.
“We’re no different to a football club and we say that we are the third club on match day.
Two of the association’s big focuses this season are providing more support for junior umpires and trying to get those playing football and netball to consider umpiring as well. The association has added several junior match day mentors, who will attend junior games.
Icely said one of the biggest issues was retaining umpires, with many doing one year and not coming back.
“We identified one element, that there wasn’t a lot of support on game day for first and second year umpires,” Icely said.
“We now have a head coach, an assistant coach and match day mentors.
“They’ll go to the games and provide feedback and shadow them if they need.”
The other big initiative for the association is the introduction of a player to umpire pathway program.
While they have had umpires come across from football and netball in the past, they are making it an even bigger focus.
They are encouraging players to either play on the Saturday or Sunday and then umpire on a different day or later time slot.
Icely said it was a good way to make money and that there is a pathway to a higher level if umpires wanted to continue through the ranks.
The association starts pre-season training on February 5 at Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve, before moving back to MacPherson Park before the season starts.
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