AFL Umpires swim through the Red Centre

The Red Centre of Central Australia was awash of red flowing muddy water for the recently completed AFL Umpires Road-show in the Northern Territory. The road-show was conducted by AFL Umpires Heath Ryan and Mark Thomson with a helping hand from AFLNT Umpiring Development Manager Mark Noonan and AFLNT Trainee Tayte Helliwell.

The vast surroundings of Central Australia provided a stunning backdrop of bright red mud as rain poured on and off across the region as Ryan, Thomson, Noonan and Helliwell clocked up over 1500km in three and half days. The group visited schools and local umpiring associations to promote the benefits of umpiring across the Red Centre.

Over 200 students from year four to year twelve from six schools throughout Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and the Ti Tree regions participated in this years road-show. Students from the schools were taken through a 50 minute umpiring session which promoted the benefits of umpiring Australian football.

Each session kicked off with a viewing of an AFL Umpiring promotional video and then the students were invited to ask questions on any relevant topic. Later on in the sessions three umpiring challenges were undertaken; a ‘Bang Goes the Bounce’, ‘Throw-in up to the Top’ and ‘Fashionable Flag Waving’ with prizes awarded to those students who showed promise during the sessions. 
 
Each school participating in the program received a special road-show umpiring pack that included the Ultimate Umpire Guide DVD, the 2010 Laws of Australian Football DVD, AFL Umpiring Socks, shorts, caps and gifts, Training Bag, as well as a personally signed AFL Umpiring Match shirt by Ryan and Thomson.

During the road-show AFL Barkly conducted a very successful “Come and Try Umpiring” session on the Wednesday night which saw over 20 new junior umpires signing up on the night for the 2010 season. Unfortunately the AFL Central Australia “Come and Try Umpiring” session on the Thursday night was washed out due to Alice Springs receiving their years worth of rain in just one day.

AFL Umpire Road-shows promote umpiring and enhance the perception of AFL Umpires by conducting professional community development activities and programs across Australia. One of the key activities in the program is the Achieve Goals Actively sessions which are run in partnership with Down Syndrome Australia.

This session was conducted at Acacia Hill School in Alice Springs on the Friday morning and there we ran our Achieve Goals Actively session for the whole school, not just Down Syndrome participants. Our aim was to promote the benefits of physical activity, eating healthy foods and all participants learnt the basics aspects of warming up preparation and umpiring through fun and exciting games conducting by the AFL Umpires.

The Central Australian Road-show concluded with the umpires providing the opportunity to discuss the fantastic benefits that umpiring can pass onto their students in building leadership, confidence and becoming more effective communicators to the AFL School Ambassadors at their information day in Alice Springs.

All participants and umpires gained valuable skills and information through this AFL Umpires Road-show. It was a most enjoyable experience for all involved, even with all the rain. We have planted the umpiring seed in some future AFL umpires across these wide ranges of the Red Centre.

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