WIMMERA and District Umpires manager Howard Schier is urging retired footballers to consider swapping the boots for the whistle and to have a crack at umpiring.
With the end of the season approaching and seasoned players hanging up the boots, Schier said he hoped to recruit some more umpires for next season.
“We always have a shortage and we always need more umpires,” he said.
“At the moment we umpire seniors and under-17s for Wimmera and Horsham District and reserves for Wimmera league. The next step for us is to try and umpire Horsham District league reserves. We would like to umpire all grades of football and the more umpires we have the more we can help clubs.”
Schier said umpires sometimes had to deal with unfair abuse from supporters.
“If you’re copping it, it can put people off and we would love to encourage more younger umpires to get involved,” he said.
“It certainly is rewarding, both financially and by being in part of a team. Recruitment of umpires is always a challenge but we need all the sporting public to either get involved or endorse the work our umpires do.”
Former player and current Taylors Lake under-14s coach Adam Hall said umpiring has given him a chance to experience football in a different way.
“After playing football I did a pretty serious injury so I thought going back to the field wasn’t the best so I took up umpiring,” he said.
“I do a couple of games a week and thoroughly enjoy it. I still wanted to stay involved with the game at a senior level and it’s a good way see some of the better players across the region.
“It’s not the easiest of jobs but I have a greater appreciation of the decision making process.
“I’d tell people to give it a go and if it’s not for you then it’s easy to walk away from but it.
“If you want to drive away from the football injury free and have your fitness training done for the week, then it’s a great way and you get to see some of the better games up close and personal.”
Schier said it was hard to maintain umpires and hoped by creating a more welcoming environment it would encourage more to stay involved.
“We understand football is a very passionate game and we encourage parochial barracking,” he said.
“We also understand that at times our umpires might not be to the standard that you would like, but abusing an umpire will not help the situation, it only adds to the pressure on the umpire.”