The 2016 version of the Fiona McBurney Match Day Experience was launched at Ikon park last night in front of the Melbourne based AFL umpires.
Chris Donlon explained to the assembled group that the program was going national this season following its rebirth in 2015. There will be ten games at the MCG, three in WA and SA and two in Qld and NSW with the final game in Canberra.
Apricot CEO, Adrian Panozzo who partners with the AFL umpiring department and the association has rolled out the program across Australia to provide more opportunities for state based Downs Syndrome associations to support their participants.
Each of the state umpiring departments have embraced the program and are fully supportive of their inclusion.
Ex AFL field umpire, Jason Quigley who umpired 48 AFL matches before succumbing to injury spoke to the group about living with a Downs Syndrome child. Jason and his wife Rebecca were welcomed back with open arms by the group. Likewise, Murray Turner who ran the boundary, was an AFLUA member for two years and a VSFLUA member for five years between 1990 and 1994. He coached the VFL boundary umpires in the late 90’s, returned with his family to participate in the launch.
AFL Umpires’ Manager, Wayne Campbell welcomed the group to training before they went out onto the oval to participate in the training drills, overseen by fitness coach, Peter Mulkerns and many of the umpires present.
The evening finished with some light refreshments and a good chat with everyone getting involved.