FOOTBALL umpires from across the south-west are learning from the best as they prepare for the new season.
AFL field umpire Justin Schmitt, who has officiated in 243 senior games, and boundary umpire Chris Roberts (126 AFL games) are leading a three-day umpire roadshow in the region.
It started in Hamilton on Monday, hit Warrnambool last night and will stop in Colac today as Schmitt and Roberts pass on some of their knowledge from umpiring at the highest level.
AFL Victoria umpire development manager Russell O’Toole said the roadshow went beyond providing specialised coaching for regional umpires.
He said the umpires also met student leaders in schools, where they discussed the leadership qualities of umpires.
During a session with students from Kings College and the Clontarf Academy in Warrnambool yesterday, O’Toole said the students arrived at the conclusion umpires had similiar attributes when it came to leadership as their footballing heroes.
He said the students believed the umpires had integrity, honesty and abilities to cope with making decisions under pressure.
“It wasn’t so much a recruiting campaign, it was more of a chance to show students the roles and responsibilities of umpiring in the AFL and create an awareness and understanding,” O’Toole said.
He said the roadshow was a “once a year” opportunity to take AFL umpires into regional areas to help inspire existing country umpires.
He said the timing was right because it coincided with regional associations’ work to retain existing personnel and recruit umpires for the season ahead.
Warrnambool and District Football Umpires’ Association chairman Jamie Lake said the roadshow was invaluable for his younger members.Western District Umpires Association secretary John Donegan said the visit to Hamilton on Monday had left his members inspired as they prepared for their season in the Hampden and Warrnambool and District competitions.