Congratulations to Peter Challen who umpired his 100th AFL game at the Port Adelaide v St Kilda game at Adelaide Oval on Saturday 25th July 2020.
Peter started his umpiring career in 1999 at secondary school level before moving onto the SANFL Umpiring Academy back in 2001 where he umpired SANFL Under 17’s. In 2002, he was moved up to the SANFL Squad list where he debuted in the SANFL Reserves in 2002 and the SANFL Seniors in 2004. He umpired the SANFL grand final and was awarded the SANFL Best Goal Umpire Award in 2006, before being promoted to the AFL in 2007.
He umpired his first AFL game – Adelaide v Geelong in round 11 2007 with Geelong defeating Adelaide in front of a packed house at Football Park by 7 points.
His journey to date has certainly been a rollercoaster ride. When he debuted in 2007, there were 5 goal umpires on the AFL list in South Australia which meant it was hard to get a game and resulted in him having only 31 AFL games over his first four years on the list. He admits the constant in/out affected his ability to perform at a consistently high level over a sustained period of time.
In 2011, he returned to SANFL and found himself enjoying his umpiring once again. He had immediate success and umpired three SANFL grand finals in 2011, 2014 and 2015 before being promoted back to the AFL list in 2016.
He has since found he is far more relaxed this time around and has found umpiring more fun and enjoyable. His greatest learning from his experience to date is how much concentration and focus is required to get through an entire game of football at AFL level and believes that may have led to his undoing in his first stint as an AFL umpire. Peter is now proud of the 100% physical and mental effort he puts in for the entire game, knowing you can’t switch off because you never know when something might happen out of the blue.
His career highlights to date was being unexpectedly being re-appointed to the AFL list for the 2016 season and umpiring the 2019 AFL Elimination Final between West Coast and Essendon at Optus Stadium.
He loves goal umpiring because of the un-expectancy, uniqueness and the challenge for perfection and the atmosphere that is created when there is a full stadium and you are part of the action. He relishes the showdown games due to the build-up during the week leading into the game. In a two-team town, the players lift, the crowd is louder than usual and a awesome atmosphere is created which is fantastic to be a part of.
Peter prepares for each match by packing the night before and when he departs for the ground, he says goodbye to his wife and kids, grabs a red bull and then listens to a sports psychology CD which he believes helps him get into the right frame of mind for the game. He admits being a nervous character, so he tries to remain as calm as possible before the game starts to conserve as much mental energy as possible.
Covid-19 has certain changed football in 2020 meaning Peter moved to the Queensland Hub on Friday 19th June and returned on Sunday 5th July and umpired five games in 3 rounds of football. Since coming back to Adelaide, Peter has been involved in every game at the Adelaide Oval whether umpiring or emergency bar one game. “It is fantastic to be back umpiring in front a crowd (though not as big as usual) at my favourite place to umpire.”
He admits the Covid-19 policies have made training difficult in SA as you can only train with one other AFL umpire which made it difficult for the one umpire who was left out and to undertake skills drills in a proper manner.
Congratulations Peter on your well deserved milestone!