Giving oneself a kick up the backside for not achieving a fitness test without blaming others or looking for excuses is often the difference between success and failure in elite sports, be it officiating or actually playing the game. A decision to get his fitness up to the required levels has been the big difference in Alistair’s success which now finds him on the AFL Goal Umpires list for season 2016.
A full-time pharmacy student and working part-time as a pharmacy assistance means Alistair had every excuse to put off fitness, but he persevered and was rewarded with the NEAFL Grand Final in 2014 and 2015 and awarded the Queensland Goal Umpire of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. Other highlights in his career include the NEAFL Northern Conference Finals in 2012 and 2013.
Alistair believes the media attention is the main difference between the NEAFL and the AFL, “Everyone knows about the AFL, it’s common knowledge and everyone talks about it, despite it being a rugby capital.” He also believes the pace of the game and the noise from the crowd will be significantly different, once he experiences it first hand in an AFL match.
Alistair never started out aspiring to be a goal umpire. Like many umpires, he played for a junior Under 11’s team and would often run the boundary for the Under 13 game which followed. One day he was asked to goal umpire and his performance must have shown promise as the local match manager told him he would be working the goals in future, rather than running the white line.
Alistair believes Pat Gipps is the most influential person on his career to date. “Pat was very supportive and enjoyable to be around. We’ve maintained regular contact and he has always shown an interest in my development and my career.” Alistair also acknowledges the progress he has made under his current coach, “Roachy has been at the top so naturally you aspire to be like him and learn from him.”
Like any career, you can often suffer setbacks along the way. “It’s important that you learn along the way, and deal with setbacks in a positive way.” he also advocated that it’s important that you put in to get to the fitness level required. Alistair acknowledged that when he missed the time trial by 30-40 seconds in 2014, it was his wake up call. “I was very disappointed in myself. I knew if l wanted to succeed at AFL level I had to work on and improve all aspects of my umpiring including fitness.”
Article written by: AFLUA Marketing and Communications Coordinator – Peter Kelly