Coming off a year where no football was played, the Yarra Ranges Umpires Association entered the 2021 season going down paths that had not yet been explored in terms of training, coaches, numbers, recruitment and retention of umpires.
With the covid pandemic providing the opportunity for some umpires to pursue other interests, it gave Outer East and the association the chance to undergo a recruitment strategy which saw it able to fill all games across senior and junior football as the season commenced.
Reflecting on the shortened year, Yarra Ranges Umpires President Peter Dixon was pleased with how things panned out given the challenging set of circumstances the umpiring group needed to deal with.
“Everything was different purely because of covid,” he said.
“The numbers weren’t great initially and we tried a lot of different things as far as coaching is concerned, so we implemented a different structure.
“However, despite the challenges, we got through all of it pretty well.”
The recruitment strategy in umpiring primarily saw a transition of several southern based umpires join Outer East in 2021, which proved to be an effective move.
Part of this strategy was to move the weekly training program to a three-venue arrangement, with reserves in Lilydale, Emerald and Officer all open for Wednesday night sessions which provided great flexibility in options for all umpires to train at a place which is local to them, regardless of where they are across the region.
“This was an extremely successful move because we had people of all ages come along and were part of that,” Dixon explained.
“Not only did we have new kids joining but we also had mature age umpires who came in and were umpiring premier and division one standard football.
“Without them, we would have struggled to fill games.”
While in Dixon’s view there were no standout umpiring performers across the season, he is particularly proud of how well the younger generation are coming along in their umpiring journey since their careers started.
“We have been impressed by the consistent and continual improvement of our younger umpires, some of whom have been with us for more than 10 years,” he said.
However, three umpires were rewarded for their efforts to umpiring and their contributions towards the association from a training and social capacity.
Josh Johansen was recognised as the junior field umpire of the year, while Zeke Tresidder took out the Golden Whistle award and Greg Malone was the recipient of the prestigious John Edwards Medal.
Looking into 2022, the umpiring group has been bolstered by the recruitment of current AFL umpire John Howorth to the role of Head of Umpiring.
His appointment will bring a level of integrity to the group and drive recruitment to Outer East and the umpiring group.
Dixon is really excited about the recruitment of Howorth ahead of season 2022 and is looking forward to the roll out of what he can bring.
“I have never heard of a current AFL listed umpire undertaking what he is about to do, that is so unique,” he explained.
“John’s target is the younger generation of umpires to bring them up into premier division standard because he is really big on pathways.
“His purpose of the recruitment strategy will be to provide an environment where young people can become umpires and enjoy it, knowing they can progress to further places.”
The Yarra Ranges Umpires Association shares a strong relationship with the league, where administrators and board members on both sides are always on the same page with each other with respect to ideas and plans to continue fostering a great environment for all umpires from an on-field and social perspective.
“The most important thing the association can do, as well as me as president, is to provide the right environment for our members to enjoy their umpiring and events like barbeques, dinners and other things of that nature helps with the social aspect,” Dixon said.
“The association and the umpiring group we represent are really positive and upbeat about 2022, given what the new coaching structure will look like.
“We can only go further and anticipate to do better next year.”
|Josh Johansen||Junior Umpire of the Year|
|Zeke Tresidder||Golden Whistle|
|Greg Malone||John Edwards Medal|