Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Goulburn Valley umpires get a taste of AFL

Three AFL umpires were in Shepparton last night to pass on some tips and experience to Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association umpires.

MATTHEW GALEA April 30, 2014 3:15am

AFL umpires Michael Craig, Tim Morrison and Matt Leppard attended GVFUA training last night to share some knowledge.

District umpires were given a chance to pick the brains of their AFL equivalents last night.

Ex-Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association member Matt Leppard returned to his old hunting ground with Tim Morrison and Michael Craig to share their knowledge with GVFUA umpires.

Leppard, now a field umpire in the AFL, started his umpiring career with the GVFUA and said being able to come back as an AFL umpire was rewarding.

‘‘It’s very rare up in the country here to get exposure to AFL umpires,’’ Leppard said.

‘‘I know when I was growing up here in Shepparton, I didn’t have any exposure to AFL umpires at all, therefore we never really got a grasp of what it’s like at that level.

‘‘I think the important thing we’re trying to get across with these sessions is to show what it takes to get to that level.’’

Boundary umpire Morrison and goal umpire Craig ensured the session covered every angle of umpiring and allowed umpires of different disciplines to get tailored advice from top-level officials.

Leppard took central umpires through a number of skills drills, with a focus on stoppages and ruck blocking.

Morrison hoped to show the boundary umpires what a typical session was for AFL boundary umpires to give them an insight into the physical requirements of running the boundary at the top level, as well as technical skill practice in throwing the ball.

‘‘We want to try and show how it’s done under pressure,’’ Morrison said.

Craig said his role was about showing young goal umpires there was a pathway to the AFL.

‘‘Typically you find goal umpires are an older demographic, but because it’s a long journey to the AFL we’ve started targeting younger goal umpires,’’ Craig said.

‘‘From a skills point, we’ll look at some bread and butter stuff, such as getting on-line when there is a contest and how to position yourself and moving at the right time, as well as long kicks.’’

The specialised advice is important as umpires generally need to pick their discipline early on.

‘‘We’re very disciplined specialties, therefore you can’t really chop and change,’’ Leppard said.

‘‘If I wanted to become a goal umpire, I’d have to come back to grassroots and start again.’’

Leppard said even if umpires did not aspire to reach AFL level, as long as they took something out of the session to improve their own umpiring, the session would have served its purpose.

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