WA umpiring great Brett Rosebury is optimistic about extending his career for three more years ahead of his 25th season as an official.
Rosebury is back in his hometown of Perth to help promote umpiring in WA and to encourage returning and new umpires to register for the 2024 season.
He’ll be the keynote speaker at the Call to Whistle: Community Umpiring Launch on Friday evening and at the Call to Whistle: State Umpire Coach Conference on Saturday.
The Call to Whistle: Community Umpiring Launch will offer a Q & A session with Rosebury and many umpires and coaches from across the state.
The event is designed to unite both new and existing umpires, establishing a platform to promote umpiring, ignite enthusiasm, and foster a sense of camaraderie.
The Call to Whistle: State Umpire Coach Conference will bring together Umpire Coaches from across Western Australia, fostering connection, fellowship, and providing a unique platform for professional development.
This gathering serves as an excellent opportunity for Umpire Coaches at all levels to unite, share experiences, and learn from each other.
Retaining and recruiting umpires remains a challenge, according to Rosebury.
“The growth of female football has really stretched the umpiring pool, so it’s always important to attract new umpires and retain existing umpires,” Rosebury said.
“Umpiring WA has a target to grow the number of registered umpires by 9% this season, with the state to surpass 3,000 registered umpires for the first time.
“The ability to retain umpires is an ongoing challenge but I know the reward and opportunity umpiring has given me and worth it and I have loved every part of the past 30 years since I first started back in my first U10s game in Armadale.
“Every year we see lots of young umpires, most with playing backgrounds, join up as an umpire but it can be challenging to retain them.
“It is important that the footy community respects the role of the umpire and helps umpires to enjoy a positive environment on game day.
“I’m here to encourage more people to step forward and give umpiring a go, they might find it more fun and rewarding than they thought.”
Rosebury has reflected on the quality of whistleblowers produced in this state.
“WA has always produced great umpires and umpiring people, not just those who’ve gone onto AFL, but when I first started the quality of the WAFL senior umpires was something which assisted me in those early WAFL seasons,” he said.
“Guys like Wayne French, Sam Kronja, Trevor Garrett, Simon Gill just to name a few.
“In more recent years we have seen many WA based umpires do AFL finals including, Luke Farmer and Dean Margetts.
“Jeff Dalgleish and I both did the 2015 AFL GF so two of the three field umpires being from WA was something special.”
The 43-year-old has enjoyed a decorated career, spanning more than 500 matches, but he’s not ready to call time on a job he loves.
“I know the finish line is somewhere soon, and all good things come to an end at some stage,” Rosebury said.
“This is season 25 for me but as long as I’m mentally and physically still doing well then maybe I have another two or three years in the game.
“At 49, Simon Meredith is still performing at a high standard and going to four umpires has helped with longevity at the top level.
“I don’t think age is a barrier at the moment and experience seems to count for more these days.”
Even as one of the AFL’s most senior umpires, Rosebury has a post season ritual to help him kick start a new year.
“The challenge and enjoyment factor are still there, and each game presents something different,” he said.
“Umpiring is hard work but it’s great fun.
“We have a great squad of umpires, and we really enjoy our time together through the good and bad calls we make.
“I make sure I travel every off season and come back refreshed and get into the next pre-season.
“I’m loving working with the next crop of umpires on the AFL and challenging them to be the best they can be and pass on my knowledge onto them before I retire.
“Umpiring has given me so many amazing opportunities, from traveling Australia and umpiring pretty much everywhere from the MCG to the Tiwi Islands and to remote indigenous communities and umpiring International Rules games at Croke Park in Ireland.
“Pre-season camps and AFL umpiring development trips to New York, London and Barcelona have been special.
“I’m so grateful for all these opportunities, let along the amazing people I have worked with and met over the past 25 years at the AFL.”
Having been in the system for a quarter of a century, Rosebury has been part of significant changes to the way the game is adjudicated.
“It has evolved over the past 25 years for sure, and with rule changes we just roll with the flow each season and try and come up to speed as quickly as possible,” he said.
“The accountability and scrutiny have never been greater and that’s fine because we work in a high-performance industry, and we are always trying to get it right.
“I think there is an understanding and respect for how hard this job can be at times from players, coaches, media and some fans.
“At times we are the toughest critics of ourselves because we hate making mistakes that impact the game.
“When I first started umpiring it was very individual in terms of game day and performance.
“Now we are a complete team, umpiring for each other and just wanting to get the best result for the game.”
Those interested in becoming an umpire, visit https://www.wafootball.com.au/umpiring/become-an-umpire