While it is the dream of many young footballers to one day play AFL, some turn their talents to umpiring at a young age or when they are older to continue their participation in the game.
Field umpiring is one aspect of umpiring but there are also exciting opportunities to continue in the game as a boundary or goal umpire.
Just as there is an established development pathway for field umpires from community football through to WAFL football and AFL, similar pathways exist for those who aspire to be a boundary or goal umpire.
The goal umpire pathway in WA commences at senior community football where high quality coaching is provided by former AFL and WAFL goal umpires.
The Swan Districts Junior Football Council also offers an opportunity to try your hand at goal umpiring in junior community football.
Goal umpires who show the necessary skills, fitness and application may be invited to join the WAFL Goal Umpire Panel. The goal umpire pathway continues with WAFL Colts, Reserves and League football, while the highest achievers are invited to join the AFL Goal Umpire Panel.
The WAFL Panel currently comprises 27 goal umpires, four of whom are also members of the AFL Goal Umpire Panel.
There are four women on the WAFL Panel including Kendell Ball and Lauren French, who have umpired 93 and 35 senior games respectively.
The WAFL Panel provides goal umpires for the three grades of WAFL football – Colts, Reserves and League football, plus each weekend two AFL panel members umpire the Eagles or Dockers game at Patersons Stadium.
Goal umpiring provides a challenging but rewarding way to participate in our great game. Challenging, because there are high expectations and rewarding, because umpires can master complex skills and participate at a high level of competency.
AFL and WAFL goal umpires are expected to have high levels of fitness, well-developed positioning skills, confidence and authority, clear communication, and a comprehensive knowledge of the laws of the game.
These skills are achieved with a qualified coaching team, comprising a former AFL goal umpire and former senior WAFL goal umpires.
In addition, the WAFL Panel includes current or former AFL goal umpires, Dave Shawcross (353 games), Mike Spear (253 games), Dale Edwick (207 games) and Adam Peacock (192 games), who all add to coaching capabilities.
Fitness training is provided by qualified fitness coaches and there is considerable attention to skill development through on-field practice, video reviews and discussion sessions.
The AFL Goal Umpire Technical Adviser based in Melbourne provides weekly coaching vision to the AFL/WAFL Panel to communicate the current instructions and directions for goal umpires from the highest level in our game.
Individual goal umpire development is further assisted through dedicated goal umpire match day coaching at every game, followed up with written feedback. In addition, vision of every game is made available to each goal umpire for review against their written feedback.
The rewards are real for the most capable goal umpires. Daniel Dobson who joined the WAFL Panel several seasons ago from the Peel Community Football League Umpiring Panel has been selected to travel to Sydney in July this year to goal umpire in the AFL National 16s competition.
Lauren French has been selected to travel to Melbourne in July this year to goal umpire in the AFL National 18s competition. While in Melbourne Lauren will also attend an intensive training program provided by the AFL with other goal, field and boundary umpires from around Australia,.
Luke Edwards, who has umpired 33 senior WAFL games, has been selected to goal umpire the SA v WA State Game in Adelaide on Saturday, 26 May.
There are more than 130 field, boundary and goal umpires, coaches and trainers who make up the wider WAFL umpiring team. The WANFL Umpires Association sponsors a range of social functions during each season providing an added dimension to umpiring for our members and their families.
You could one day be standing in the goals at Patersons Stadium in front of 40,000 spectators goal umpiring the Eagles and Dockers.
For further information on how you can commence the exciting journey into the world of field, boundary or goal umpiring in WA, please contact Paul Pitchers Umpire Talent Manager on 9381 5599.
Picture: WAFL Goal Umpires Coach Colin Shawcross