The AFL ‘Player to Umpire Pathway’ was developed to establish a process for ex-players to move into umpiring.
At present, there are three umpires who undertook this pathway program on the AFL panel. For the first time, Leigh Fisher, Brent Wallace and Andre Gianfagna umpired together in the Round 13 clash between Adelaide and Geelong on Sunday 23 August at Adelaide Oval.
Leigh was recruited in the 2002 AFL Draft from Sandringham. He made his debut for the St Kilda Football Club in 2003 against the West Coast Eagles in Round 18. He went on to become a regular fixture in the Saints’ best 22 playing as a small defender in 2006 and 2007. His 2007 season was emphasized by a career high 32 disposals against Hawthorn in Round 8 2007, with 25 kicks, 7 marks and 7 handballs.
He commenced umpiring with the VAFA in 2011 and umpired his first AFL game in Round 3, 2013 – Melbourne v West Coast Eagles. Leigh has umpired 148 AFL games, including 1 final – the most by a former player as a field umpire.
Brent played for the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL before joining the player-to-umpire pathway. He umpired in the Eastern Football League and Victorian Amateurs in 2012 before joining VFL in 2013. In his first year at the VFL, he umpired the VFL Development League grand final and became an AFL Rookie umpire in 2014.
In 2015, he was appointed to the AFL list and made his debut in Round 11, 2015 – St Kilda v Melbourne. Brent has umpired 74 AFL games.
Andre was drafted to Melbourne in the Rookie Draft for the 2006 season. After leaving the Demons, he played 70 VFL games for the Northern Blues and served as the club’s co-captain for the last two seasons.
He umpired with the Eastern Football League in 2014 and following promotion to the VFL squad in 2015 umpired 45 VFL matches including the 2017 VFL Grand Final before he was appointed to the AFL list in 2018. He made his debut in Round 4, 2018 – North Melbourne v Carlton. Andre has umpired 46 AFL games.