Aussie Rules is fast becoming one of Macarthur’s most popular sports but umpires are in short supply.
In the search for more umpires AFL NSW/ACT has started its biggest ever recruitment drive.
Umpire development coordinator Dylan Moore said they hoped to have 500 umpires across the Sydney Junior competition.
“Last year we had 429 but a lot of them were doing two or three games,” Mr Moore said.
“Eighty per cent of the umpires are still players so they were running six kilometres a game and umpiring other games in between.”
Umpires are trained weekly.
The free sessions are held at Fairfax Reserve in Harrington Park.
“We teach them most of the skills, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played or watched the game before,” Mr Moore said.
“As long as they have a bit of confidence they’ll be fine.
“People also need to be fit but the training will teach them that and they will get fitter as training progresses.”
People aged 13 years and over can be trained as umpires.
Mr Moore said there was also a bit of a cash incentive.
“Umpires can earn up to $60 cash in hand for junior games or $150 cash in hand for senior games,” he said.
Umpiring is not an easy job.
Sometimes things can go wrong so Mr Moore said it was important to rise above poor sportsmanship.
“There is a fair bit of pressure on umpires, sometimes they make a mistake or call people don’t like and they cop abuse,” he said.
“We try really hard to encourage a positive game environment.
“All of the umpires are really tight-knit group – it’s a real family environment.
“We don’t throw you in the deep end either, all first time umpires start with the under nine teams and work their way up from there.”
If AFL NSW/ACT reach their goal this group will be one of the biggest umpire groups in Australia.