State Umpire Manager in SA, Shane Harris has been a fantastic supporter of our FM MDE program since its inception.  This weekend he took it a step further with the help of Maureen Lawlor from Down Syndrome SA when 11 Down Syndrome participants played football on Adelaide Oval at half time in the Port Adelaide v St. Kilda match.  See the Adelaide Advertiser article about the match and look for a series of photos that we will publish on our website and Sportability Facebook page during the week.  Congratulations to all who helped make the day memorable for our participants.

If you’ve taken a quick look at the AFL umpire appointments over the past few weeks you would have noticed a number of umpires officiating in different states.  Just this weekend alone we had four games where a goal or boundary umpire travelled interstate for their appointment.  In past years umpires only travelled if there was an injury or illness. This season, the AFL is looking at giving umpires the opportunity of umpiring and learning to cope in different environments.  

Scott Jeffery’s return to AFL football occurred a little quicker than perhaps he would have liked.  Nick Foot was forced off the ground with a calf injury in the second quarter of the Essendon v Collingwood game and Scott had to replace him.  Scott umpired a VFL game the day before but got through another half a match ok.  “I hope I’ll get a light night during the week, it took a little time to return to the intensity of AFL football,” reflected Scott.  We hope that Nick’s injury is only a minor one.

Umpires in the Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn game on Sunday night wore black armbands to recognise former VFL goal umpire, Kevin Barker who passed away during the week. Kevin umpired 217 games including 11 finals and 5 grand finals between 1969 and 1981.  He went on to coach and observe umpires in the VFL and VAFA. Kevin was also a member of our Hall of Fame and was a Grand Final Legend.

Spare a thought for our Tasmanian based goal umpire, Mark Ensbey who is very used to the cold of Hobart and not so used to the sun in Queensland.  Two of Mark’s last four matches have been at either Metricon or the Gabba.  The other two have been at the G.

Veteran boundary umpire, Adam Coote has walked a very fine line this year and avoided injury and illness in his attempt to get to 300 AFL games this year.  That all fell apart at training on Thursday night when he popped a calf and will miss the next two weeks.  It looks like another tough pre-season Adam to reach the coveted 300 game milestone.  Another veteran who is nearing that mark also has missed the last two games with a calf injury.  Shaun Ryan can still make the 300-game milestone before the end of the season.

Our FM MDE participant this weekend was Thomas Rimmer from Perth.  Thomas is a self-starter and along with his mother Pamela and family thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet his football heroes.  Thomas works 4 days a week and has to travel from Leederville an inner Perth suburb to Fremantle requiring him to be up at 5am each morning to catch the train to Fremantle.

Well done Thomas.  Our chaperones, Darryl and Fiona Sinclair also had a great day!  See photos of Thomas’ day on our website later in the week.