Since coming across Australian Football for the first time in February 2009, Tobias Siegel cherishes every opportunity to be a part of the game in Europe.
A growing love for the Carlton Football Club drove the German’s interest in the Australian game, leading him to get involved.
“My first live game was Carlton vs. Brisbane at the Etihad in April 2009 and that was when I really understood the game and started loving it. Since that day, Carlton became my number one team and I now have an overseas membership,” said Siegel.
Despite not initially being involved with AFLG, Tobias found his place back in the sport while studying in Dresden in 2012.
He later joined the Dresden Wolves and in April 2013, played his first game in Prague, even kicking his debut goal.
In an eventful day for Tobias, he unfortunately finished the match with a serious foot injury, something he could never recover from and what he thought would take him away from the game he loved.
With the inability to play the game anymore Tobias decided to find more about umpiring in Germany.
Tobias put in hours of hard work to make sure he knew the rule book back to front and his effort in preparation showed on the field when he began umpiring.
“Most of the umpires in the AFLG are Aussies who umpire when asked or injured, so for them it’s quite natural as they often grow up with the sport. My perspective here was different. Especially when it comes to something essential like holding the ball where you need a good feeling and experience and just knowing the rule book isn’t enough here,” he said.
Getting a season under his belt in AFLG, Tobias built the confidence and skills to umpire in the AFL Europe European Championships in London, 2016.
Gaining confidence and recognition from this helped to boost his umpiring career and gave Tobias a greater understanding of the game.
“Meeting fellow umps from Europe and living together with them for a week, being coached by Adam Davies from Australia and doing 18-a-side matches as a boundary, goal and field umpire really opened up my perspective and gave me a much deeper understanding of the game,” said Tobias.
Since this tournament in 2016, Tobias has been a great ambassador for AFL Europe, helping out and umpiring at multiple events.
2017 proved to be a successful year for Tobias, where he umpired his first AFL Europe Champions League and ANZAC Cup.
Being involved in countless tournaments over the years, Tobias describes the ANZAC Cup experience, “Without any doubt, the greatest honour so far was being chosen for the ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux in April and spending days there with the French and Aussie players. I’m still very thankful for have been giving that opportunity, especially as a German.”
Despite the amazing times Tobias has had as an umpire, he has also had some serious challenges in this role.
Unfortunately struck with a leg injury, Tobias is currently working to get back to umpiring but has been forced to take a year off.
Still involved and helping out where he can, Tobias has become a great leader and teacher for the German umpires.
Tobias’ great work has lead him to be chosen for the Umpire Coordinator of Germany role, and the umpires around him are in very good hands.
Looking forward to the rest of his career and beyond, Tobias is showing no signs of giving up umpiring just yet, even after his career has been hindered by injury.
“At first I’d like to encourage more umpires from Germany to take more part in European events. They are always so well organised and loads of fun and the umpires are so well organised and treated by clubs and the team at AFL Europe,” said Tobias.
Looking to make a comeback for the 2020 Champions League tournament, we at AFL Europe wish him a speedy recovery and can’t wait to see his return to the European stage.
Liam McAllion – AFL Europe