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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.”

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

Umpiring at the Axios Euro Cup

Picture Derek Clarke

By Michael McCormick

The Axios Euro Cup is back again for the tenth installment of this annual fixture on the European footy calendar and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Formerly known as the EU Cup, the event will return to its inaugural location – London – for this milestone year.

The fast-paced action that the tournament is becoming renowned for will entice large crowds on the first Saturday in October. As it is just one week after the AFL Grand Final, footy fever is sure to be high and the best 9-a-side teams will be looking to wrestle the trophy away from the hosts.

Every great match of football requires exceptional umpiring and hence we will need a strong panel of local umpires to enforce the rules of the game.

Umpires are of upmost importance throughout these events as they encourage safe, fair and free flowing play. In previous years we have seen all-European umpiring panels take the big stage and exceed our expectations and we hope for much the same in 2014.

We are currently looking for field and goal umpires to umpire this lightning tournament across a number of fields and groups.

AFL Europe Umpire Development Manager, Shane Hill explained that the demand for local umpires at marquee events increases with each passing year.

“With the number of local players ever increasing, now is a great opportunity for our indigenous umpires to demonstrate their ability to competently and confidently conduct matches of Australian Football,” stated Hill. “With better umpires come better games.”

If you would like to register to umpire this event, then please click through to Eventbrite.

“Field and goal umpires involved at this tournament may one day go onto umpire a future International Cup in Australia or the Easter Series right here in Europe,” continued Hill.

If you will be in London for this great event, come down and support the third team – the umpiring team – as they seek to ensure safe, fair and flowing play throughout the tournament.

As a reward for excellence, the 2014 Golden whistle will also be awarded to the best all-round umpire of the tournament.

If you have further questions about getting involved in umpiring in Europe for this event or with your local competition, please contact umpires@afleurope.org. Alternatively, you will find additional information in the umpiring portal on our website.

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

Umpiring AFL in Europe

Michael McCormick

The men in white who run out alongside the players every game often get overlooked, or even taunted, for their decisions on the field, but without them, the game would simply not be.

While the 2010 inaugural European Championships was a milestone for AFL in Europe, it also paved the way for the ‘stewards’ of the game – the umpires – to stamp their mark on the competition.

Three years on and the umpiring fraternity has gained momentum and a list of enthusiastic Europeans to govern fair play in this great game.

AFL Europe Umpires Coordinator, Shane Hill, suggests that developing and nurturing competent European umpires will stand the game in good stead for continued growth.

“Umpires of Australian Football in Europe now have a structured development pathway they can follow, enabling Europe’s finest whistle blowers to reach their true potential,” explains Hill.

The new breed of European umpires is acknowledged for their achievements through internationally recognised certification and appointment to local, national and international competition. Hill explains that the more exposure to the game and education of its rules the umpires in particular can get, the better off the competition will be.

“In terms of education, umpires and players alike have benefitted from attending our introductory ‘Level 0’ courses held across the region,” states Hill.

The aforementioned Level 0 course is a one day workshop in which participants learn all the fundamentals of being an umpire. Attendees aren’t expected to have any prior knowledge of the game and hence, the course seeks to provide a “safe learning environment where everyone feels free to ask the ‘silly’ questions,” according to Hill.

As of August 2013, close to 100 umpiring hopefuls had completed the course, some of whom have gone on to umpire in marquee events such as the European Championships. Several others have also completed the Level 1 accreditation course, which provides a more in depth understanding of an umpire’s role.

Confidence building is a major aspect of the course as the freshly certified umpires are encouraged to trial their new found knowledge in a practice game on the day.

Once certified, they may be called upon to officiate local matches in their region or even national or international competitions. One Bordeaux local, Alexandre Garandel, who made his boundary umpiring debut at the Euro Cup in September, 2013, experienced just that.

“I was nervous, I didn’t want to make mistakes because it’s important for AFL in France,” he stated.

Many locally sourced umpires took to the field in the 2013 Euro Cup alongside Garandel and more experienced Australian and European officials. This was a great sign for not only the status of AFL umpires in Europe, but also the game at large.

The development of AFL in Europe depends heavily on collaboration between players, umpires and officials, who are all striving towards the same goal. The support provided through the Umpiring Association is imperative to the longevity and continued growth of the game the world over.

Words from Shane Hill:

With understanding of the game and respect for the role of our umpires in Europe at an all-time high, umpiring is truly everybody’s business. If you would like further details about the game or how to become an umpire in your local league, please email umpires@afleurope.org. Alternatively, follow our somewhat irreverent updates via the AFL Europe Umpires Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/afleuropeumpires) and on Twitter (@AusFootball).

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