Thursday, July 28
By SANFL Media
In a first for junior football to help stamp out umpire abuse and dissent, all coaches and officials will be required to be seated during play in all National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors competitive matches this weekend.
The initiative, to be piloted in all matches from Under 12s to Under 17.5s in Round 12, applies to coaches, assistants, team managers, trainers/first aid persons and interchange players in the ‘exclusion zone’, with only team runners exempt.
Under existing competition rules, a clearly identified exclusion zone for spectators of at least 5 metres from either side of the interchange area applies to all matches for Under 11s and above.
In a statement issued to all clubs, the SANFL said the purpose of the sit down to coach rule was to address the poor coach and spectator behaviour towards umpires by “removing the emotion out of the coaching role and help provide a calm approach to the coaching environment”.
It comes on the back of an increasing number of poor coach ratings from umpires in the first 10 rounds of the season.
“As a League, we make over 350 appointments across 338 matches each weekend and our umpires must be allowed to do their job in a safe and supportive environment,” SANFL said.
“The fact that we continue to receive reports of threatening behaviour towards our umpires is completely unacceptable. It must be remembered that the majority of SANFL Juniors umpires are Under 18 and, just like junior players, the umpires are developing and learning the game and should be supported and treated with respect.
“We set very clear behavioural expectations for coaches, officials, parents and spectators in community football and this expectation should be well known and enforced by all clubs.
“Unfortunately, the frequency with which we are receiving reports of umpire abuse or umpire dissent shows that this is clearly not the case and stronger action must be taken.”
"...Let’s all support the players and umpires to ensure that they enjoy their National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors experience and become lifelong supporters of our great game."
SANFL Juniors will assess and review the results of the ‘sit down coaching’ round before making a decision on whether the initiative should be introduced again in season 2023.
It also reminds spectators and clubs that fines will be issued to clubs which are not adhering to the exclusion zone rule.
“National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors is a fantastic competition which provides over 12,000 participants and 350 umpires the opportunity to play the game of footy, develop their skills and most importantly have fun,” SANFL said.
“Spectator and officials’ behaviour play a pivotal role in the overall enjoyment of the match day experience, so let’s all support the players and umpires to ensure that they enjoy their National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors experience and become lifelong supporters of our great game.”
Photo: Phil Radoslovich
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