Everybody’s talkin’ at me, but I can’t hear a word they’re sayin’.
So go the famous words of Harry Nilsson. Not so for the umpires of AFL Europe, who in 2014 have so far held three regular teleconferences, with two more still to take place before the season is out. Our conversation about umpiring is gathering momentum, and always in a safe learning environment.
“It has been difficult to visit all of our umpires on a regular enough basis to give them timely and meaningful feedback,” said Shane Hill, Umpires Development Manager for AFL Europe. “The teleconference initiative seemed like a good solution, to enable our umpires to share their ideas and just have a good yak about footy and umpiring in particular.”
AFL Europe started running umpiring teleconferences alongside the European Championships of 2013, in Dublin.
In that inaugural call, both David Levens and Steve Keating were on the line from Australia as were a roomful (and yet more dialling in from around Europe) of our European umpires asking a range of questions. The key aim of the call (and the umpiring course of which it was a part) was to help those involved to become better umpires. Better umpires mean better games, and it was great to hear everyone taking the opportunity to ask as many questions of our coaches as possible.
In 2014, we’ve already held several teleconferences, with still more to come.
AFL Europe commenced this year’s series of calls in late March, with the leadership of the AFL’s National Development Manager of Umpiring, Adam Davis. Adam provided us with his thoughts about the future of umpiring development at AFL Level and development pathways. Simon Harrison provided his extensive community football experience as did Andrew Jones. Shane Hill complemented the trio by giving a flavour to AFL Europe’s umpire development plans and provided input from his umpiring experience in Australia, UK and Europe.
Our umpires have since continued the conversation with Simon, Andrew and Shane in May and June.
“It’s been really great to hear a range of experiences from our umpires in these calls,” says Hill. “Whilst we’re all based quite remotely from each other, we are all facing similar issues and all solving them in slightly different ways. By sharing the issues we face, we’ve been able to talk about possible solutions and I think this is probably the most positive way we can support our ‘third team’ members.”
During our series of calls in 2014, a wide range of topics have been discussed. The list of topics has touched on all the essentials an umpire needs to develop a mastery of the craft. Blow Show Go, common sense umpiring, protecting the ball player, prior opportunity, positioning, developing an umpiring community and seeking feedback are just some of the threads we’ve covered in over 5 hours of conversation this year.
Our umpires have really taken the opportunity to discuss umpiring in a relaxed environment amongst their peers and hopefully have benefited from their participation.
Nilss Lode, Umpires Coordinator for AFLG has been one of our regular participants. “Umpiring in the German league can be demanding when new players first start playing, as the skill level and knowledge of the rules is significantly less than experienced players. The umpires will try to explain the laws and what infringement has been paid for new players. In my role as Umpires Coordinator, my aim has been to improve overall umpiring standards.” Lode had these thoughts about our teleconferences this year, “The teleconferences run by AFL Europe have helped me to improve my confidence and consistency in decision making, by having the opportunity to ask questions about certain incidents during games.”
We thank Nilss and indeed all of our umpires who have dialled in to our teleconferences this year for their important input.
One particular benefit of our discussions this year is that a number of materials have been made available for our umpires portal on the AFL Europe webpage. Your one-stop umpiring shop can be found at http://afleurope.org/be-involved/umpire/. In the coming weeks, you’ll see resources posted here to help you develop as an umpire, and for Umpires’ Coordinators use in their coaching. We welcome your feedback as we develop these resources for you, our umpires.
Do you want to join in the umpiring conversation?
Our next teleconference is set for Wednesday 23rd July at 8pm (UK time) and there will be a “Season Wrap” in the week after Axios Euro Cup. If you want to join the conversation then register via Eventbrite, at: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/afl-europe-umpires-6007970449?ref=eorgbtn. Dialling details are provided to all registered attendees.
If you have further questions about our teleconferences, or if you would like to know more about umpiring where you are, contact email@example.com.
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Picture by Derek Clarke