12 March, 2024

Wimmera Mallee Umpires ready to launch

The Wimmera Mallee Umpires are ready to launch into the 2024 season with a visit from AFL umpires Wednesday, set to kick off a recruitment and retention campaign.

By Contributed

Simon and Kirrilly Dandy
Simon and Kirrilly Dandy

John Howorth (Field), Steve Piperno (3 x AFL Goal) and Simon Blight (Boundary) was
joined by AFL Victoria Recruitment and Retention and Women and Girls staff as they visited
schools and to facilitate Wimmera Mallee Umpires training at Horsham City Oval.

Father and daughter duo Simon and Kirrilly Dandy, mentioned how much they are looking
forward to this opportunity.

“It’s just great that the AFL umps support us in the regional areas and get out to the schools and our training to inspire the next gen to ‘dream big’ and pursue an elite pathway in umpiring footy. They’ll give all of us some amazing insights into what it’s like to umpire the AFL and AFLW athletes as well as some practical pointers we can apply to our local footy umpiring”.

“They’re just really giving of their time and are great talking with school students as well with how to deal with high pressure environments, be decisive with decision making, goal set,
communicate effectively, work hard and make sacrifices”.

Simon and Kirrlly have been umpiring locally for a number of seasons now, with Simon a
decorated 300 game player and coach loving the transition to umpiring and being able to
remain involved in the game at a high level well after his playing days.

He was rewarded last season being appointed to field umpire the Horsham District League Senior Grand Final in only his first few seasons, a testament to his commitment to learn the craft, take on board feedback, read the game and relate to players.

“I genuinely love it and really encourage more ex-players to consider it. They are not lying
when they say it’s the ‘next best thing to playing’. You still get the adrenalin rush, still feel like
you are in the thick of the action and you still feel like you are part of a team training together
for a common goal.

The goal might be slightly different, with a ‘win’ being managing the game effectively so the players are kept safe and laws are upheld, but that bond and reliance on each other to make this goal happen is still there, there is a real team aspect.

Trainings quite similar as well, with lots of footy drills and match sim incorporated to make it fun and engaging, whilst keeping the run in the legs.”

“The icing on the cake is being able to share the stage with my daughter Kirrilly”. My days of playing top level sport with my kids are probably behind me, but the chance to be on the
same ‘team’ as my daughter, umpiring some of the amazing talent we have in our Leagues
at present, you can’t put a price on that. Sometimes you pinch yourself that you’re paid quite
handsomely to do it.

Kirrilly comments, “Yep, I love it! I’ve actually been able to save up quite a bit of pocket
money, and remain around my friends, community and the game I love. It’s also been pretty
cool how there’s heaps more girls around this season, with females outnumbering males on
the training track so far this season.” She’s looking forward to getting some more
opportunities to field umpire junior footy whilst continuing to boundary umpire senior football
in season 2024.

Other initiatives the WM umps have in store for the 2024 season:

  1. More accredited coaches appointed- As well as decorated and experienced Field (Cam Pickering 2022 AFL Vic Coach of the Year), Boundary, Goal and Development coaches (Frank Marklew 2023 Development Coach of the Year), we’ve appointed Dean & Ross Frew as Development Boundary Coaches and Tony Miles as an Elite Pathway Coach. We felt there was a need there to differentiate between these umpires and provide a bit more specialised support to support the diversity amongst our umpires, their different skillset and goals.

  2. Female Liaison Officer - Chloe Haughton is employed by AFL Vic to support and promote opportunities for women and girls in umpiring and continue to improve culture and match day environments with Female Hubs an exciting development to keep a look out for.

  3. Free uniform for recruits (valued at up to $300).

  4. Incentives to sign up with new recruits going in the draw to win $100 cash for new senior umpires and/or brand new Sherrin football for new junior umpires to practise with.

Umpiring in the Wimmera and the Horsham District Leagues, umpires have the opportunity
to earn between $30 - $220 per game.

“It really is a no brainer”, states AFL Vic Recruitment and Retention Officer Cam Pickering.

“You get paid to keep fit, make friends and have the best seat at the game to watch the
action from up close! And yes you can combine playing with umpiring! Many U/14’s and 17’s players, Youth Girls, Women’s footballers and even netballers find they can combine playing their sport with umpiring.

Often it compliments their sport, developing their confidence, fitness,
communication skills and ability to read the play - learning from officiating a higher standard
than they play.

Adults shouldn’t feel like they have to commit every week as well, with you telling us what
your commitments are and we can then work around them”.

Anyone interested in joining the WM umpires is encourage to follow the following link


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