AFL Europe Umpire Spotlight – Milo Lombardi

Milo Lombardi has umpired in a staggering six countries, more than many people can say they have even travelled to. That list is made up of countries from all over the world which play Australian Football. From Australia, England, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and the US, Milo is certainly a well-travelled umpire, having first started in 1991.

His love for the game is clearly evident, and even though he hasn’t played since his early 20’s, he has found a way to stay involved with the game through umpiring.

“I loved playing Aussie Rules as a junior, but my enthusiasm waned in my early 20’s. Then I copped a shoulder dislocation and I decided my playing days were over. My brother had just begun umpiring so I joined him, and I found an awesome way to keep in contact with the game I love,” Milo said.

When it comes to one of Milo’s favourite moments on the field, being out there running with his brother ranks highly.

“There have been plenty of laughs throughout my umpiring journey, but umpiring is all about being appointed to a grand final. I’ve only done a handful of GF’s, but in 2009 I was fortunate enough to run a GF with my brother. That was pretty cool,” he said.

While many people say being part of a football team is about family, so is umpiring, and Milo’s experience shows just that.

That experience includes umpiring in six different countries. Milo began in the South Australian National Football League, before moving to the Western Region Football League in Victoria. After leaving Australia in 2014, he umpired in Alberta, Canada.

“Canada is a beautiful country and some of the backdrops to the ovals are post-card spectacular,” he said.

In 2017, Milo lived in Houston, Texas where he umpired a range of metro games, as well as the Texas Cup and the Western Regional Tournament. While he lived in North America, he was fortunate enough to umpire three US National Tournaments.

Milo Lombardi and Matty Hayward umpiring Cambridge University v Birmingham University in November 2018

Now Milo lives in England where he regularly umpires in the AFL London league and has also been to various AFL Europe tournaments such as the Champions League and Euro Cup.

This month, Milo will add country number seven to his list when he flies to Norttalje in Sweden for the Euro Cup.

Looking forward, like many umpires, Milo would like to be involved in the 2020 International Cup but understands the importance of bringing the next generation of umpires through.

“As for IC20 in Australia next year, I’d much rather see an up-and-coming umpire get the opportunity to officiate in the most prestigious Australian Rules tournament in the world,” he said.

Umpiring is difficult, and Milo knows that but there are still plenty of positives. “I guarantee once you wrap your lips around that whistle you’ll never look back. Running with great folk, and maybe even earning a little beer money only makes it more enticing,” he said.

With that outlook, Milo understands the position the umpiring community is currently in, with so much pressure placed on them. However, he still loves it because he loves the game, and will continue to be a pivotal part of the AFL Europe umpiring community.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe.