Flexibility the key to Recruiting Players to Umpire

AFL Cairns umpires took a different approach to its recruiting campaign for 2010.

With 3 x U18 games Wednesday night and 3 x U16s Friday night, as well as Saturdays we needed as many kids as we could get.

We met all Under 14 and 16 coaches together and explained we needed their support in gaining numbers, but would not interfere with their training sessions, taking the players after they had finished.

We then visited each Under 14 and 16 team, handing out, an introduction to umpiring booklet, a boundary umpire duties pamphlet as well as the Basics of umpiring guide to all players.

Those that showed some interest, were also given the Ultimate Umpire DVD. We also pointed out how, over the past 3 years, almost every player / umpire has made our representative teams, with the extra fitness and understanding of the game, umpiring has afforded.

We also engaged all the parents, explaining our philosophies to them, and explained that, should they have any concerns about their child’s school work or home life, to contact us and we would talk to the umpire, and if needed give them a rest.

This meeting included existing umpire’s parents, for new ones to talk to.

The interaction between parents and football coaches was a catalyst for our successful recruitment of 35 new umpires, and is on going through the season.
The new umpires were given games as shadows, where we did not pay them, but gave them the responsibility of telling us, when they felt ready to do a game solo, in order to be paid. Obviously the coach had to also agree, but we found no one put their hand up prematurely.

With so many nights of football, we also let each new boundary and goal umpire self appoint to the Wednesday and Friday night games.

This has been a huge success with both parents and umpires, as with the last game finishing at 10pm, we know they will turn up with parental blessing.

The appointment of a young  first year umpires coach has also had an impact, as the new umps have someone to relate to, and each skills session is  taken by our 2nd and 3rd year umpires, but overseen by a senior umpire.

Our success in having a great environment has led to at least one new umpire being added to our roster, every week, since the season commenced, and we now have umpires missing out on games.

Do you have any other strategies that have been successful in increasing umpire recruitment?

Ray Hocking
Umpire Development Manager AFL Cairns



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