AFL umpires have the hardest jobs in the game. They have to interpret many rules that exist in our game.
The group trains at Princess Park twice a week and many do this after a day at work. They turn up in their working clothes before preparing to train. Every umpire has a different preparation for training. Some are out on the ground practising their boundary throws for the weekend ahead. They place a rubbish bin 18 metres away and try to land the ball in the bin. Others receive massages to prepare for the upcoming training session. Some umpires are on the spinbikes warming up.
The facilities at Princess Park available to the umpires are top class. There is a gym with fitness equipment to work on strength and conditioning. The umpires share their facilities with the Melbourne Rebels but have separate change rooms. The meeting place for the umpires has several massage tables, spinbikes, sofas and chairs. The coaching room leads off from this room.
The umpires are laid back but are willing to have a chat to visitors at training. They are normal people with other normal jobs like teachers and some are studying at uni. Many will ask you how you are going and will pay attention to you.
There were many coaches at training that are also willing to talk such as Hayden Kennedy and Michael Vozzo. They are keen to hear your story and talk to you about umpiring.
Some umpires will have different pre season schedules due to injury such as first year boundary umpire Jordan Andrews. He has been limited by knee surgery.
Overall, the umpires are a professional, laid-back group that have sacrificed a lot for their second jobs as an AFL Umpire.
By Jacob Port – currently completing work experience at the AFLUA