Celebrating our footy umps

May 8, 2024

SANFL is celebrating Community Umpiring Week and the rise in the number of South Australians pulling up their socks and picking up a whistle in football competitions across the State.

There are currently more than 2,100 registered community umpires in SA – up 10 per cent compared to the same time last year as footy participation continues to grow.

SANFL Head of Umpiring Shane Harris said pleasingly the number of community umpires also included 234 women and girls – an increase of 45 per cent on the same time last year, following the introduction of all-female foundation umpire courses since early 2023.

“As the game continues to grow, we need to ensure we’re attracting more people to get involved in umpiring, with our goal to have close to 300 female umpires registered across the State this season, almost 50 per cent more than last year,” Harris said.

“There are also terrific benefits of umpiring, spanning from health and wellbeing to social connection and learning valuable life skills, from leadership to teamwork – and there’s the added bonus of earning some good extra pocket money.”


Umpiring offers a range of benefits, including increased fitness and health and wellbeing. Photo – Peter Swan

In the National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors competition played across metropolitan Adelaide – the largest junior footy league in the nation – there are currently 825 umpires, up 9 per cent on the record-breaking 756 umpires in the competition last year.

Harris said this enabled SANFL to fill umpiring appointments at every one of its 550-plus SANFL Juniors games every week, with decisive umpiring helping to reduce inappropriate behaviour on and off the field.

“All of our junior umpires are provided with ongoing training and education to equip them with managing games, and we have more umpire coaches attending games to support these developing umpires more than ever before,” he said.

“It must be remembered that the vast majority of umpires officiating at junior footy games are under 18 years of age themselves and, just like players, many are still developing and learning the game and should be supported and treated with respect.”

Community Umpiring Week aims to highlight the invaluable contribution and role umpires play in Australian football, while creating awareness around umpiring pathways and promoting respect for the men, women, girls and boys who officiate matches at all levels of footy.

A number of celebrations for Community Umpiring Week are taking place throughout the week and during Round 9 of the AFL Premiership season, with AFL-listed umpires attending local umpire training sessions across six leagues in metropolitan and regional SA.

Six junior umpires from Southern Football League also will participate in an incredible AFL match day experience at the Adelaide v Brisbane AFL match at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

The umpires will have the unique opportunity to meet with the AFL umpires pre-game, lead the AFL umpires in the walkout onto the ground, meet the AFL captains at the coin toss and officiate at the half-time Auskick grid games.

A number of umpires across the State who have recorded more than 25 years and 50 years of service also will be recognised by the AFL this week with Umpire Service Awards.

To find out more about umpiring in South Australia, visit sanfl.com.au/get-involved/umpire/


National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors umpires. Photo – Peter Swan

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