Part of my work experience tasks was to write an article on AFL umpires. So I went along to training on the 5th of April 2016. The umpires train at Ikon Park in Carlton.
The AFL umpires share the training venue with professional rugby union club, the Melbourne Rebels. When I got there I was greeted by the umpires head coach Hayden Kennedy. I then went and watched the umpires stretch prior to this running. They looked focused on what they were doing there was a bit of chatter, they obviously enjoyed their time together.
A few umpires came up to me and shook my hand while they are we’re doing stretches. They asked me questions like what school I go to and and if I have a footy background. The umpires then went outside to do some running. There were a few umpires who were doing laps of the oval and some in the middle of the field practicing bouncing the ball. They then began to do some run throughs where they would start running a normal pace then sprint then slow down to stop. After doing the for about 15 minutes they did a drill that I never thought an umpire would do because this drill is more for a footy team.
They would have a 2 vs 2 where they would start at two different places then run to the middle pole then run back to where they started and then run to pick up the footy. The team that got the ball would then take it over a line to win. They continued to run but some left the oval to head into the gym.
As we were leaving we walked back into where the umpires did stretches and weight lifting. We spoke to a couple with them and I got to have a conversation with them. I never thought I’d see umpires lifting weights and doing a gym circuit.
The thing that I learned while going to training is that the umpires are very similar to footy players. They have their own facilities, they’re instructed to do the same things as a footy player, like, watching their eating habits. Their training is very similar and they have doctors, coaches and trainers so in actual fact they are kind of like another team.
Written by Joseph Bianco – Marymede Catholic College