Moneycorp Presents: Umpire Spotlight – Nilss Lode

Moneycorp Presents: Umpire Spotlight

Nilss Lode

Each month, AFL Europe will showcase an umpire contributing to the game of Australian Football around the continent. Many thanks to Moneycorp for their continued support of AFL in Europe and this Umpire Spotlight segment.

Will Taylor – AFL Europe

With 12 years of experience playing Australian Football in Germany, Nilss Lode knows a thing or two about Australian Football in Europe.

It’s a game that has brought him so much joy since his early days in primary school.

Growing up in Melbourne, the Victorian loved the chance to have a kick-to-kick in his youth.

He kept that passion as he moved across to Europe and now he still has that passion as an AFL Europe umpire.

“Umpires have an ability to stay in the game longer than players as the physical demands are not as high. We get the best view of the game and we’re not spectators!”

Nilss career in umpiring started when he talked to a mate that was already involved in the profession.

He was interested in why his friend loved the task so much that he attended an AFL Europe umpire workshop that didn’t go quite the way he expected.

“I didn’t go there with the expectation to be an umpire, but after going through the laws of the game in a workshop session, we umpired a practice game for the German Eagles national team.”

“It was a great thrill to umpire my first game with a dedicated umpire coach at my side and I decided that I wanted to be an umpire going forward.”

Nilss had the chance to umpire at the 8th annual ANZAC Cup in 2016.

Having the right resources available to him was definitely important for Nilss’ development. He loved the profession but as he explains, it was the support on offer that made him determined to carry out a long-term tenure as an umpire.

“It was important for me to have the opportunity to develop my umpiring skills so that I could umpire to the best of my ability.”

“AFL Europe through my coach, Shane Hill, offered that coaching support andI umpired for the AFLG and attended all the AFL Europe tournaments to have the opportunity to umpire with the more experienced, and the best umpires in Europe.”

Throughout his time wearing the green on match days, Nilss has had the chance to umpire all across this wonderful continent.

As an AFLG Grand Final umpire on two occasions while also becoming an AFL Europe event specialist after officiating tournaments in England, France and The Netherlands, there is no doubt that Nilss has made the most of his time since making the switch.

But unlike many umpires in Europe, Nilss has also umpired in nations outside of the continent.

Nilss with fellow umpires for an AFL Japan Grand Final.

“I umpired a game in first division with a current AFL Grand Final umpire, Chris Donlon.”

“I’ll never forget that game as it was my first time umpiring with the 3 umpire system and I had Hayden Kennedy (AFL umpire 400+ games record holder, current AFL Umpire Coaching Manager)  as a coach.”

“I was a bit nervous before the game to umpire with an AFL umpire but once the game started, it was like being part of a premiership team as a player, but better, as this was with AFL umpires!”

“Chris Donlon was very supportive during the game and said that I made good decisions. He also gave me his AFL umpire shirt after the game!”

Now still as passionate about the profession as ever before, Nilss is extremely grateful of the opportunities that he has had officiating this peculiar sport.

“We get to see the game in the thick of things. Sometimes I witness incredible individual or team passages of play during a game, that no spectator can imagine.”

“I love to be part of the best game in the world.”

Do you know an umpire with an outstanding story in Australian Football? Get in touch via our AFL Europe Facebook page or via email to