Tigers defeat Crusaders in close battle as Women’s footy marches on in England

by Ian Baxter

In sweltering conditions more Australia than Yorkshire another ladies game took place, this time in Sheffield, as the curtain raiser to the Central and Northern England League Men’s Grand Final.  The game was between the Tyne Tees Tigers and the Crusaders a team made up of ladies from the Wimbledon Hawks, Wolverhampton Wolverines and Nottingham.

In the first quarter the Tigers jumped out to an early lead kicking the first few goals with Lynn Mitchell winning the ruck taps and the Tigers midfield delivering the ball into the forward line. But the crusaders fought back into it with Laura Turner’s run and carry and Rania Ramadan accuracy in front of goal to bring it back to just 2 points at quarter time.

1Q Tigers 3.3.21 Crusaders 3.1.19

In the second quarter the Tigers using Michelle Healy to tag Turner nullified the Crusaders attack. And with Tigers midfielder Polly Moane, and forward Jordy Lane finding more of the ball they were able to kick three unanswered goals to take a 20 point lead into half time. Despite the heat and the hard running nature of the game the Crusaders managed to keep the pressure on the Tigers capping the quarter at 3 goals.

HT Tigers 6.3.39 Crusaders 3.1.19

Crusaders v Tigers

The third quarter, started in confusion as the Tigers switched Tanya Scully from defence to attack, Nicola McLaughlin did all the hard work winning the ball in the centre square then proceeded to kick the wrong way!

As the legs started to tire in the heat, the play became more open with more one on one contests. There was some tough tackling on display from both sides but in particular the Crusaders Sophie Morris.

With more run and carry on display from the Crusaders in particular the tireless Rachel ‘Killa’ Kilmartin and French pair Chloe Raso and Gaelle Hazimeh the crusaders came back strongly into the game. Tigers captain Lisa McHugh sweeping up in the back line allowed the Tigers to edge the quarter by a single point and the game remained in the balance going into the final break.

3Q Tigers 9.5.59 Crusaders 6.2.37

Crusaders v Tigers

In the final quarter as the Tigers tired the Crusaders pushed on reversing the 2nd quarter, with Jess Forster, Turner and Ramadan scoring 3 unanswered goals.

With the Tigers profligate in front of goal, managing 4 behinds, they hung on for a 7 point win.

Full time Tigers 9.9.63 Crusaders 9.2.56

 

Goals:

Tigers: Moane 4 Lane 3 Healy 1 McHugh 1

Crusaders: Ramadan 5 Turner 3 Forster 1

sheffieldd

 

Following this 4th successful women’s game this year the ladies are now looking forward to taking part in the Axios Euro Cup in October. With an AFL England women’s training session to occur in Chippenham in September the future of the women’s game in England has never looked so bright.

Australian Football growing in London’s schools

PRESTON MANOR HIGH SCHOOL vs. ALEC REED ACADEMY- July 9th, 2014

 by Laura Frazer 

Laura is a PE teacher and Aussie Rules in Schools Ambassador from Australia who is currently working at Preston Manor. She has found a way to combine her love for the sport and teaching by introducing the game to her classroom.  This was the first clash between two high school girls teams in London- a great step forward for the growth of the sport. 

On Wednesday July 9th, Preston Manor hosted an all-girls game of Australian Rules Football against Alec Reed Academy. The girls had been training for the last five weeks – both in class and after school – learning the game and also the skills and rules involved.

The game consisted of two twenty-five minute halves, played on the back field at Preston Manor High School. The teams were briefed as a group before the game began and congratulated on their hard work leading up to the game. The captains from both sides met in the middle of the ground- Jada Blake and Kaydene Dacas representing Preston Manor and Chloe Matthews from Alec Reed Academy. We were also lucky enough to have Adam Bennett from AFL England umpiring the game and Gaelle Hazimeh from AFL Europe in attendance also.

Alec Reed won the toss and chose the scoring end as both teams took the field. The first half was a struggle for both teams to clear the ball – but did not disappoint in the level of intensity the girls competed for the ball. When given space, both teams were able to show off varying levels of skill, running with the ball and delivering it to surrounding team mates. Jada Blake and Kaydene Dacas were excellent for Preston Manor across the half back line, successfully locking the ball in Preston Manor’s forward half.

Halfway through the first half, Preston Manor got on the board, kicking a behind in a very congested forward line. With five minutes to go in the first half, Tori Doughty managed to put the ball through the goals to give Preston Manor a seven point lead going into half time.

In the second half, Alec Reed came out with a refreshed attitude and looked to take the game on. The ball was down Alec Reed’s end for the majority of the second half, with Preston Manor struggling to clear the ball out and Alec Reed locking the ball in really well.

With ten minutes to go, Renaise Lewis from Alec Reed kicked a goal, making it one point the difference. No more scoring shots were taken, with the ball spending the majority of the second half in the midfield.

At the end of the game, Preston Manor came out victorious, winning by just one point. The umpire awarded a best on ground medal for both teams, with Kajanthiha Kanagaratnam from Preston Manor and Debbie Slack from Alec Reed receiving the medals.

The coaches would also like to acknowledge the following players for outstanding performances on field – Kajanthiha Kanagaratnam, Chantelle Henry, T’mari Smicle, Xheni Dedja, Rianna Nurse, Jada Blake and Kaydene Dacas from Preston Manor and Debbie Slack, Karthika Sriskantharajah, Renaise Lewis and Chloe Matthews from Alec Reed Academy. We look forward to the next game!

FINAL SCORE-

Preston Manor: 1.1- 7

Alec Reed Academy- 1.0- 6

 IMG_1254 IMG_1430

On the 11th July St Agatha’s Catholic Primary School and Reigate Priory School played a match in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Each school was represented by two teams with the following scores, first match St Agatha’s 3.3.21  Reigate 2.2.14.  Second game St Agatha’s. 1.2.8 Reigate 6.2.38.

If you are interested in developing the game in schools please get in touch with Tia at tia.bool@afleurope.org

AFL Europe Umpires’ profile – Part 2

By Michael McCormick

George Wood

Having to break up a fight in London may be a common occurrence for some, especially on a weekend. When you’re on your own, trying to break up a fight between two teams of footballers is a whole new ball game.

This was the situation that AFL England Umpire, George Wood found himself in during one of the first games he umpired.

“I came off the ground that day feeling absolutely spent, that’s when you know you’ve put your best effort in,” stated Wood. “Or it means you’re really unfit.”

Wood, who watched a lot of AFL growing up in Australia, has ambitions of becoming an umpire in the TAC Cup, through which most of the current and past greats of the game were recruited.

Wood became hooked with the game at a very early age.

“My earliest memory would probably be at Auskick when I was about five years old. It really helped set down some good foundation skills for me.”

Wood believes that Australian Football is growing in popularity due to the athleticism of the players and entertainment of the fast paced games.

“When Geelong full forward, Tom Hawkins kicked a goal after the siren against Hawthorn to win the game in 2012, I was ecstatic,” remarked Wood.

“They came from the brink of defeat to snatch the game as a result of pure determination and will and that’s what makes footy great.”

Wood also watches a lot of games to analyse the umpires in order to improve his own skills.

“They really establish a presence on the ground and a commanding aura. So I try to replicate them as much as possible.”

Wood underpins confidence as the number one factor that will determine the success of an umpire on the field. He advocates standing by decisions and not being afraid to blow the whistle.

“Don’t allow outside influences to impact your decision, you’re there for a reason.”

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

 John Enright

John Enright

Playing Australian Football in two countries is an achievement in itself but when neither of those countries are Australia, it is a rarity.

ARFLI umpire, John Enright has accomplished that and much more in his career to date.

Born in a small town in the County of Kerry in Ireland, it wasn’t until Enright moved to Ontario, Canada that he began playing Australian Football. Upon returning to Ireland after his Canadian gap year, with a premiership medallion around his neck, Enright joined a local team and continued to grow his passion for the sport.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Enright’s umpiring crusades kicked off, being thrown I the deep end and made to umpire the ARFLI Grand Final.

“I initially went to the game as a spectator but the assigned umpire was at a wedding the night before and was late in arriving,” said Enright.

“I was asked to step in and so got my first shot at blowing the whistle.”

Enright was exhilarated by being in control of the match and was hooked from there.

Over the next few years, Enright went on to complete many course and become one of the most accredited Indigenous umpires in Europe.

This level of commitment lead to his finest moment – coordinating and managing the European Championships in Dublin in 2013.

“It was a quite a thrill to assign umpires for games and to umpire prominently in a major European Championships,” said Enright.

He now has sights set on representing European umpires at the International Cup in 2017 which he believes to be quite achievable.

He has a less realistic goal of umpiring at an International Rules game between Ireland and Australia yet with his prior experience as a Gaelic Football referee and an AFL umpire, Enright has established himself as a prime candidate for the role.

Enright also believes that being an umpire is a very fortunate position to have and one not to take for granted.

“Don’t be afraid to have a go,” said Enright to any aspiring and young umpires.

“Be confident in your decision making and enjoy the game from the best seat in the house.”

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

Gavin Ward’s experience as DAFL umpires coordinator

Picture Derek Clarke

By Gavin Ward, DAFL umpires coordinator

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”

After moving to Denmark with my Danish wife in 2002, I came across Australian Football by accident and to my surprise. Being a retired player back home and out of the game for many years, I saw this as a great opportunity to firstly get involved with the Danish society and secondly to give back to the game the great experiences it gave me growing up.

As umpires are like hens teeth in a minority sport, being asked to umpire came quite quickly. I thought I would give it a go, and I’m glad I did.

My first game was bit hairy at the start with a few tense moments, but I pulled through unscathed. Looking back, you realise how challenging umpiring can be, due to the considerable amount of focus and concentration required.  From a playing perspective, the challenge of umpiring probably goes unrecognised as your focus is on yourself, your team and winning the game, and not much appreciation is given for the umpires’ efforts.

The past couple of years I have been umpiring on a regular basis.

I find that umpiring a good way to still be involved in the game, maintaining fitness and enjoying the social side afterwards. I started really enjoying learning another side to the game. I found you learn and understand the game from one perspective as a player; where umpiring has quite a different focus and a need to understand the rules on a much deeper level.

I’ve since been asked if I would like coordinate the umpires and help in trying to build an umpiring team.

Once I took on the role, I naturally found the need to dig deeper into umpiring, to improve myself as an umpire and help other umpires do the same. Last year’s AFL Europe Level 1 accreditation course was really helpful in moving forward in my role as coordinator. The preparation, coursework, drills and feedback were all beneficial to me both as an umpire and as a coordinator.

One of the highlights I have had in umpiring was umpiring the European Championships in Dublin.

You can really notice the different standard of the game – it gets the heart rate going and motivates you to perform! Umpiring in those games was really enjoyable because all involved wanted to do well. The Championships were quite exiting to umpire – it was nation up against nation every couple of days, which gave a feeling of being as part of something special. Another, more recent highlight, was umpiring the Scandinavia Cup in Malmo, Sweden. It felt like a local derby, as the intensity level was quite high.

As an umpire, these are the types of games that send chills down your spine!

Coordinating a team of umpires comes with its ups and downs. I knew it would be challenging trying to recruit more umpires as well as retain our existing guys and girls. Setting up a social media group helped with recruitment and engaging the team. A lot of questions the guys and girls had leading up to games could be discussed privately amongst the team, and I think everyone appreciated the support. Using the website for promotion and encouraging new umpires (or injured players) to try out goal and boundary umpiring as a taster seems has shown some positive signs.

The most rewarding part of my role as coordinator so far has been seeing new umpires pick up the whistle for the first time and love the part that they play in our great game. Takes me back to my first time in control of a match!

One of the biggest challenges is encouraging new umpires to umpire rather than play.

Umpiring is to an extent seen as something to do after your playing career has finished and the few regular umpires we do have are retired players. Keeping the young guys involved who have ambitions to play is an issue, so something we may try next year is “Play one day, Umpire the next.”

Ideally, we would also like to work with the clubs ahead of the season to identify three or four rounds where new umpires will officiate alongside an experienced umpire. This will boost interest in umpiring and help handle those first-game nerves. Also, some of our female club supporters have been helping with goal umpiring this year. Potentially we have our own Chelsea Roffey in our midst, or better still one will go on to become a regular field umpire.

The last few years in the DAFL have seen more neutral umpires, which is improving the culture around umpiring.

It’s really important to have a supportive environment around our umpiring group, as it has helped retain umpires. In addition, since AFL Europe introduced accredited training and support, the standard of umpiring in the league has improved, as it gives our guys and girls something to strive for. I am also hearing this from Umpires’ Coordinators in other leagues, who all seem to be doing well in developing their umpiring teams.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the 2014 season and am starting to plan for next year already. Reminds me of how it went my playing days, really!

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

Umpires Workshops & the development of umpiring in Europe

A little less conversation, a little more action please!

Elvis may well say actions speak louder than words, but here at AFL Europe, we think that it’s the talking that helps our indigenous umpires take their first tentative steps onto the field of dreams.

Australian Football in Europe has seen the number of players and their skills developing fast over the past few years. Considering the steeper learning curve involved in both learning the game and becoming an umpire at the same time, it’s not surprising that our umpiring stocks have been a little slower to develop. Through our “entry level” Level 0 course, we’ve tried to provide learning umpires and their coaches with the fundamentals and a safe learning environment.

Shane Hill, Umpires Development Manager for AFL Europe said, “I was asked a few years back to run a course for umpires at a Euro Cup. Along with a couple of others, we tried to keep it simple, focussed on the most important decisions and gave advice about the game day environment.”

Since then, AFL Europe has run a dozen of these foundational courses across Europe. The content may have been refined, but the message remains the same says Hill, “We need umpires who understand the spirit of the game and have empathy with players. By developing umpires who keep the game safe, fair and flowing, the game will benefit.”

The Level 0 focusses solely on the spirits of the laws, “risky business” and basic positional concepts.

Importantly, umpires, players and coaches all take part in this respectful and safe learning environment, for the benefit of our great game. It is in essence just a conversation about footy. The ability to share a range of perspectives – and experience – helps the group to develop confidence for umpiring, and be able to learn from mistakes in a supportive environment. It’s an environment that can also act as a springboard to further build on club/umpire activities throughout the season.

Over 100 umpires have undertaken our gateway course to Australian Football. The Level 0 is one of the pre-requisites to undertaking the Level 1 and umpiring at key AFL Europe events.

In helping our leagues to develop umpiring, we needed to address the unique European conditions. “Taking the Australian model and telling leagues ‘this is how you develop your umpires’ missed the point – it particularly assumed some inherent learning during an umpire’s formative years. So we went back to basics, including things like 9-a-side, knowing that we needed to talk about what Australian Football actually was in a theoretical sense,” states Hill. “The way our guys and girls here play the game is so different in so many little ways. It’s a thrill to see the game in a whole new light.”

Better umpires really do mean better games.

With better umpires, players are more confident to commit themselves to the ball, pick it up and as a result, dispose more effectively. We all want to see the big marks, strong tackles and long passes to a leading forward, which all benefit when players know the risk of avoidable injury is reduced by having properly trained umpires. Encouragement not only from other umpires but also senior players and coaches who have attended these courses and know how to recognise good umpiring, enables our “third team” members with the positive reinforcement that validates our love of the game. Our club leaders are potentially the most important umpiring resource we have.

Oliver Krajacic, Captain of the Austrian Avalanche had these thoughts to share, “For us Umpiring has been approached mostly the same as Footy – a couple of dedicated blokes who almost knew what they were doing, slowly but constantly improving with time.” It would be fair to say that many leagues have a similar situation locally. Krajacic goes on, “AFL Europe delivered an Umpiring Workshop last year at our home ground in Zwaring, with players from the Croatian League participating as well. For the first time we had a professional tell us not only how to interpret the Rules of the Game in a more detailed way than we ever had before, we also got valuable advice on how to conduct a game, how to position yourself when working with a second umpire and how to communicate on the ground.” The benefits to players and umpires alike were clear to Krajacic, “Apart from drastically improving our umpiring, the workshop also helped players to better adhere to the rules, play smarter and better understand an umpires decisions and the difficulties of umpiring an Aussie Rules game.”

We certainly look forward to seeing Oliver and the Austrian side at this year’s Axios Euro Cup in London, to talk more about how umpiring is developing locally.

Taking it to the next stage, the Level 1 develops further an umpire’s core skills.

In 2013, we ran our first Level 1 course in Dublin, alongside the second European championships. Nearly a dozen umpires took the theory course and, additionally some members the national squads joined our inaugural teleconference. Many umpires involved in both the theory and the teleconference went on to umpire throughout the week in a range of conditions. All involved in the Level 1 programme received on-field feedback and a post-tournament review. As a result, the AFL recognised four umpires, who received their Level 1 accreditation.

Gavin Ward, Umpires Coordinator for DAFL was one of those involved in Dublin, “the past couple of years I have been umpiring on a regular basis. I had been a retired player in Australia for many years, so I’ve really enjoyed learning another side to the game. You learn and understand the game from one perspective as a player; where in umpiring there is a need to understand the rules on a much deeper level.”  Last year, Ward took on the role of Umpires Coordinator for the DAFL, “I was asked to help build a team of umpires. I started looking into what training is available to help other umpires in the league, when I heard about the Level 1 course to be run as part of the European Championships. The preparation needed before the course and focusing on umpiring for a full week proved to be quite beneficial. There were a lot of drills, written materials and coaching during and after games. This, along with setting up a social media forum to support and recruit umpires has really helped me to move forward in my role as Umpires Coordinator.”

It’s great to hear Gavin’s feedback. Our Level 1 course is designed to give developing umpires who desire increased performance the resources and support they need to achieve their aims.

Our approach to the Level 1 is more rigorous, with the pre-requisites being completion of the Level 0 and online theory. Successful Level 1 umpires are then observed in a minimum of three matches competently umpiring to a Level 1 standard, criteria including control, position, composure, confidence, communication, consistent application of the basic laws and have a developing understanding of how to self-assess. The criteria are set down by the AFL, who has recognised our Level 1 programme.

So what happens now?

Following feedback from our umpires like Oliver and umpires coordinators like Gavin, the conversation continues. We’ve expanded our development programme this year, particularly in consideration of the remoteness of our “third team.” We’ve held several teleconferences already this year with more to come. We will also be running two Level 1 courses, one in the UK and one in Eastern Europe. A number of forums are now also available, alongside the longstanding AFL Europe Umpires Facebook page. We already have some exciting plans under discussion here at AFL Europe HQ for 2015, so stay tuned!

Want to join the conversation or invite a friend? Our forthcoming July and October teleconferences and in the remaining Level 0 and Level 1 courses still have places remaining. Registration is via Eventbrite (http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/afl-europe-umpires-6007970449?ref=eorgbtn) and for each, registration closes a few days before the event.

Sorry Elvis, but we’ll have a little more conversation for our third team, please!

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

2014 Umpires Teleconferences

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 umpires@afleurope.org.

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

Picture by Derek Clarke

Training plan and materials for umpires

By Shane Hill

An important part of an umpire’s preparation is a good fitness regime. Along with proper nutrition, hydration, well structured exercise will help to ensure you are able to maintain position throughout the match. Three levels of aerobic and anaerobic exercise are described below.

Typically, you will want to try a mix of these exercises at your level. Combining the right aerobic drills to build up your stamina with one or two of the anaerobic drills to increase your peak performance, you will be able to gradually improve your fitness over the course of a season. As your level increases, try balancing exercises from the differing levels to provide you with some recovery time. Shortening the rest interval between periods of effort is also a good way of maximising your heart rate and your resulting fitness.

It is important not to push yourself too hard through these and if you experience pain, apply the RICE principle and seek treatment from your physio.

There is also a sample training plan for an hour-long training for a group. Though you will notice that it focuses on Field Boundary and Goal umpires, there is no reason that an umpire or umpire’s group can’t integrate this plan with a club’s forwards, centres and backs training.

You will want to vary this plan throughout each session and from week to week. Always commence and end a session with some very light exercise, to prepare the body for exertion and relax it back to rest. Your warm up and cool down periods are critical to avoid serious injury, along with good hydration during and after the session. Importantly, encourage those you are training with. There’s nothing better for developing team camaraderie than good talk during periods of anaerobic effort. Running all the way to the line and not cutting corners in these parts of the session will pay dividends on match day.

Eat a substantial late lunch around 2pm and be mindful of eating anything too heavy between then and your training session to get the maximum effectiveness from your training session.

If you have further questions about these training materials or would like to suggest your own, please contact the Umpires Development Manager for AFL Europe via umpires@afleurope.org.

Training Session Template

Beginner – combined Aerobic and Anaeorbic Sessions

Intermediate – combined Aerobic and Anaeorbic Sessions

Advanced – combined Aerobic and Anaeorbic Sessions

German umpiring on the rise

By Nilss Lode

Australian Football in Germany often faces challenges as far as finding ideal playing venues in a central location as soccer is the dominant sport which requires significantly smaller playing areas. In the past, most games were played in open parks where locals, often taking their dog for a walk or going for a leisurely stroll, proceeded through the football field without noticing that an AFLG game was in process, which was an interesting situation for umpires. The times have changed now and 4 out of the 5 clubs in the AFLG this year have organized official sporting venues to host the games. The leading venue, in my opinion, is in Berlin which is located on the grounds outside the Olympic stadium. The stadium was renovated for the 2006 soccer world cup keeping the original structure, is a majestic monument as a backdrop to a game of Australian rules football. The playing surface is proper turf and large enough for a full size ground. I umpired at the venue in round one this year and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Umpiring in the German league can be demanding when new players to the code first start playing in the first division (AFLG Bundesliga)  as the skill level and knowledge of the rules is significantly less than experienced payers . The AFLG addresses the issue of first game players by the annulment of a law breach once, for each law in the first game. The umpires also quickly explain what the law is and why it was violated.  The ball is thrown up by the field umpire instead of a free kick.

AFL Europe with the help of Shane Hill have helped me to improve my confidence and consistency in decision making  this year through monthly telephone conferences and the opportunity to ask questions about certain incidents which occur during games.

I have been assigned the inaugural role of umpire coordinator for the AFLG this year with the aim of improving the overall standard of umpiring in the AFLG via a development program. Key umpiring focus areas are communicated to all umpires in the AFLG before every round. The players are also informed of the focus areas before the game by the field umpires.

Individual development of the umpires is done when I travel to the clubs during the year and we umpire together on game day. This involves a lot of travel on the morning of the game as the clubs are based in Munich, Berlin. Hamburg, Köln and Stuttgart. The train ride from Munich to Berlin takes 6 and a half hours.

In order to improve the players knowledge of the rules, an umpiring colleague (Harit “Hazza” Khanna) and myself have prepared a footy quiz comprising of 25 multiple choice questions based on the laws of the game. The questions have been formulated to include basic general play questions for new players as well as more advanced (tricky) questions for senior experienced players. The questions were handed out to the Munich Kangarros players on Saturday and raised lots of discussion regarding the answers! Hazza and myself are currently marking the individual responses.

A prize will be given to the player with the highest score, as well as a random ballot from everyone that completed the quiz which was voluntary. The quiz will also be distributed to other clubs once the first trial with the Roos is completed. The players had a 4 hour limit to complete the quiz and should be aware that the umpires need to make these decisions in a split second!

I’m really looking forward to umpiring at the AFL Europe championships in London later this year.

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

AFL Europe Umpires’ Profile

Pictures: Derek Clarke

By Michael McCormick

JOSH DAVEY

What does Dr Karl Kennedy and a street party in Geelong have in common? They both played a significant role in introducing the game of AFL to WARFL Umpiring Coordinator and AFL Europe Umpire, Josh Davey.

Davey, a former player turned umpire, admitted that his first memory of AFL was seeing Dr Karl Kennedy playing it on Australian soap opera, ‘Neighbours.’

It wasn’t until recently however that he explored his interest further by becoming involved with a local club.

“I saw a video online of what seemed like the whole of Geelong out on the street partying after their Grand Final win,” stated Davey. “I then watched a couple of videos on YouTube, discovered I had a local club and went and had a go.”

Davey’s umpiring career began when he volunteered with his local league during weeks in which he was injured. He then took the opportunity to be involved in the 2013 European Championships in Dublin.

“I offered my services to AFL Europe as a volunteer,” explained Davey. “There I discovered they were holding a Level 1 Umpires course and decided to get involved with that.”

Davey continued to grow as an umpire and went from strength to strength after the European Championships.

Being selected as a field umpire for the AIS-AFL Academy vs European Legion Easter Series game stands out as one of his finest moments.

“Having played for the first Legion I knew the skill level of the players would be extremely high and to be considered good enough to umpire them was a huge honour.”

The dream for many European AFL aficionados is to travel to Australia and play the great game at a professional level. Davey however has slightly different endeavours.

“Whilst some players stay after the International Cup to try and work their way up to the very top as players, I’d love the chance to do the same as a whistle man.”

Davey described Australian Football as an exhilarating game to spectate due to its fluidity and the athleticism of the players.

“It is such a beautiful game to watch, and the very best place to watch it is from the middle of the park.”

For those who want to have the same seat on the ground as him, Davey offered these words of wisdom;

“Be confident in your actions and abilities and don’t be afraid to blow your whistle. Think about mistakes after the game, but on the ground, show presence and the players will respond positively.”

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NILSS LODE

Nilss

Taking marks on other players’ shoulders is what makes Australian Football the greatest game in the world, at least according to AFL Germany Umpiring Coordinator, Nilss Lode.

Melbourne born Lode, who grew up playing Australian Football in his lunch breaks at primary school, began his umpiring career as a result of an AFL Europe initiative to develop local umpires.

“I initially didn’t even consider attending or umpiring,” he said. “One of my team mates enjoyed umpiring more than playing, and that kind of sparked enough interest to see what it is all about.”

During his Level 0 course he was thrown in the deep end, being made to umpire a practice match for the German national team.

“There were so many decisions to be made quickly and I really enjoyed the challenge and decided that I wanted to pursue umpiring further.”

Since that initial experience, Lode has improved his skill and expertise to the point in which he is now sought out for major events across Europe.

A high level of commitment and an eagerness to learn at the highest level has enabled his steady improvement.

“Umpiring at three Euro Cup tournaments enabled me to work alongside more experienced umpires than myself and learn from their advice.”

Lode is currently working towards Level 2 accreditation to further develop his own skills and those of the umpires he coordinates.

He encourages aspiring umpires to go to a local match as a spectator and make the umpiring decisions in their head to compare with what the umpire decides.

“Know the actual official rules, rather than what commentators explain on TV as they are, in my opinion, often wrong.”

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NIELS SCHONNEMANN-ROSBERG

Niels

Combining a passion for travel and a love of the great game makes umpiring Australian Football more than just a hobby for Danish umpire, Niels Schønnemann-Rosberg.

He came across Australian Football after a chance meeting with his cousin at the ripe age of seventeen.

“I bumped into one of my cousins during the summer of ’99 and he invited me down to the local footy club,” he said. “The rest is history.”

His history as a player is extensive however his umpiring career is still in its infancy.

“I started to umpire full time in 2010 as I needed a challenge other than playing football,” he stated.

“I wasnt quite ready to leave, so I thought that umpiring could be a way to stay in the game.”

As most local games in Denmark are umpired by players in their bye rounds, the professionalism of umpiring isn’t a major focus.

Because of this, Schønnemann-Rosberg had to make special efforts to progress his umpiring ambitions.

“Andrew Jones and Shane Hill helped me go through the AFL level 1 program via some travelling and a lot of skype sessions.”

After completing his Level 1 AFL Umpiring course, Schønnemann-Rosberg has been called upon for some of the biggest events in Europe and the world.

“My initial goal was to umpire at the 2011 International Cup, which I did,” he said. “I then got to umpire the Grand final of the 2013 Axios Euro Cup in Bordeaux.”

Despite being a rising star of the umpiring fraternity, Schønnemann-Rosberg remains humble about his ambitions.

“At the moment I like to umpire locally and then travel to the European tournaments where I receive feedback from other umpires on my performance.”

Despite having already accomplished a great amount, he doesn’t underestimate the importance of continuous learning and refining.

“Your performance will improve significantly if you learn and apply great positioning and communication to players and officials during a game,” he said.

“They will trust or at least respect your judgement, if you do this.”

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