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Young umpires take to the big stageWednesday, May 18, 2016 - 10:10 AM

Four junior umpires from the East Fremantle and South Fremantle Districts got the opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes pre-game experience with AFL umpires and lead them out onto the hallowed turf of Domain Stadium at the West Coast Eagles v St Kilda clash on Sunday, May 15.

The Community Umpiring Round of AFL placed grassroots umpiring in the spotlight to recognise all the umpires who do a great job at community level to allow the game to be as great as it is.

First-year East Fremantle umpire Fynn Gardner along with junior umpires Stene Collard, Mitch Forsyth, and Blake Rodger got the chance to buddy with the AFL umpiring team and get a taste of their elite match day routine.

"It was an amazing experience, especially seeing how big Domain Stadium is from the middle of the ground and the crowd," Gardner said.

“It gave me a greater appreciation for what AFL umpires go through each week.”

The young umpires received a tour of the AFL umpire rooms where they each had the opportunity to try on the communication and broadcast vests worn by AFL field umpires.

The group also had the chance to practice their centre bounce before the game and then lead the umpiring team out onto the ground where they witnessed the coin toss between Eagles Captain Shannon Hurn and St Kilda Captain Nick Riewoldt.

“It made me realise that one day I would like the chance to be out there too, but I know I have a lot work ahead of me,” Gardner said.

East Fremantle Umpire Chaperone Harris Cooper said it was a very special experience for the young umpires who got an in-depth understanding of what it takes to get to the top level.

“It is an experience they will remember and certainly won't be forgetting anytime soon, Cooper said.

 “It will be interesting to see how they take that source of motivation into the remainder of the season.”

Over the past 12 months umpiring numbers have continued to grow, with a 15 percent increase in new recruits.

Anyone out there keen to keep fit, earn some money and be part of a supportive team environment can register now at

Photo: Junior umpires trying on the communication vests in AFL umpire rooms.