The AFL Umpiring Department in collaboration with the AFL Umpires Association opened its training and coaching doors on Wednesday afternoon and evening to our retired umpires who wanted to see if things were done any differently in the modern era. Twenty-three past umpires joined the current group and were put through the coaching process.

Six retirees sat in when coach Michael Vozzo took Sam Hay through his video review from last weeks WCE v Collingwood game. Of course there was no punches pulled and some eyebrows were raised when they left the room and joined the main coaching session for field umpires.

Forty minutes later and discussion of 23 what is your decision clips saw the group emerge and head to the training track for a session of skill drills, bouncing practice and then a running session.

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The feedback however, was most interesting from both sides of the fence. “As much as time changes the basics of umpiring never do – protect the ball player was the resounding message from the coaching session,” reflected AFLUA Hall of Fame Legend, Mark Turner

The current umpires were amazed at the length of service and commitment to umpiring that the retirees when asked to give a pen pic of their history in footy, outlined. “I was absolutely astounded at the length of service our guests had racked up. What an inspirational group of men they are,” stated Chris Kamolins.

The whole group savoured a special moment when they ran off the track to greet life member, Ian Sonneman and his wife Ann who had attended the session. Ian has been confined to a wheelchair for many years but loved the opportunity to be back around the current day umpires.

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Pictured: Ian and Ann Sonneman with AFL umpires coach, Hayden Kennedy

It was a traditional afternoon tea that satisfied the hunger of the group as they left Visy Park satisfied in the knowledge that umpiring has a home base for the first time ever. The walls adorned with photos of past grand final umpires, field, boundary and goal. Honour boards and memorabilia were splashed around the walls and with them an understanding umpiring is in good hands and that the traditions live on.

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Pictured L to R Kevin Andrews, Stephen Williams, David Mitchell, Chelsea Roffey, Chris Appleton, Richard Auhl and Mark Canning at the conclusion of the goal umpires coaching session.