AFL launches campaign to promote respect for umpires

The Australian Football League has launched a national campaign to highlight the importance of showing respect for umpires at all levels, from community football through to the elite game.

There are more than 15,000 umpires in community football nationwide – across the three disciplines of field, boundary and goal – and more are needed to cater for the game’s growth.

Without umpires there is no game and too often umpires are subjected to abuse on the field and from the other side of the fence. The ‘Umpire Respect’ campaign shines a light on the impact of abuse and the role everyone in football has to play in changing the match day experience to a more supportive and positive environment for all.

At the centre of the campaign is emerging 20-year-old umpire Jeremy Zhou, who has experienced abuse in the game. The campaign follows Jeremy’s story from developing a love of football as a kid through to getting into umpiring and the impact his first experience of abuse had on him.

Jeremy, who currently umpires at VFL and community level, was nearly lost to the game.

Despite the challenges he has faced, Jeremy has shown tremendous resilience and is a great example of a young umpire coming through the ranks via the pathway system, who is destined for greater things.

AFL Executive General Manager Game Development, Rob Auld, said:

“No matter the role you play in football – player, coach, volunteer, administrator, supporter or umpire – everyone has the right to feel safe and valued at the footy.

“Those who abuse umpires in football are not just disrespecting the individual who is the target of the abuse, they are disrespecting the game, their club and the community they represent.

“Current and prospective umpires should know that stamping out abuse is a major priority for the game across the country. Umpire abuse needs to stop now, it is not a part of our game, and we all need to own and drive it out of footy.

“Umpires are vitally important to the game, and it is a fantastic time to get into umpiring, with enhanced support and pathway systems in place.”

The campaign highlights the human element of umpires and focuses on the benefits involved in being an umpire, including playing an important role in the game, fitness, getting paid and being part of a community.

The AFL encourages community football clubs across the country to promote the campaign to their players, coaches and volunteers to assist in condemning and stamping out umpire abuse.

Anyone considering giving umpiring a go can visit to learn more about umpiring and watch Jeremy’s story.

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