FOOTBALL in the south west may seem alive and well, but the somewhat invisible team on ground – the umpires – play an important role, and numbers are dwindling.
With an ageing umpiring population, Western District Umpires Association president, Robert Logan said the region would soon struggle.
“We’ve got quite a few central umpires on the wrong side of 50, and I’m one of them,” Mr Logan, who’s been umpiring for more than 25 years, said.
It was harder to recruit umpires in their mid-20s, as they’d generally formed an allegiance with their local team and continued to support their side even if they stopped playing football.
“I can see where they’re coming from, but it makes it tough; we’re trying to build up umpiring as a sport in its own right,” Mr Logan said.
No one knows better than AFL umpire, Ian Burrows, how rewarding the gig can be. Mr Burrows, 27, chose to make the switch from playing to umpiring at 17 and 2010, he umpired the drawn AFL grand final between St Kilda and Collingwood and the re-match a week later.
“Umpiring a grand final, let alone a drawn grand final was pretty unbelievable,” he said.
Read Danielle Grindlay’s full report in today’s Spectator.