Friday 11 February 2011

Umpiring stocks in South-East Queensland appear to be in great shape after 100 whistle-blowers and flag-wavers attended an umpiring season launch at Zillmere on Monday night.

Fears that the move from longtime training base Coorparoo to the new training centre at O’Callaghan Park in the northern suburbs could impact negatively on numbers appear to be unfounded with the strong turnout this week.

“The umpiring group has a feel of being really invigorated at the moment,” said State Umpiring Manager Greg Howell.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the turnout on Monday and we would like to think that both the quality and depth of our umpiring at all levels will continue to get better and better.”

While delighted with the number of umpires involved in pre-season training, Howell said there was always room for more.

“There is a strong team feeling and team ethic within the umpiring group and we would welcome any newcomers,” he said.

“As is the case with players, there are some wonderful opportunities for umpires in AFL.”

Howell is taking a positive approach with the move of the umpires’ base to O’Callaghan Park, brought about by the Brisbane Lions changing ground use conditions at Giffin Park following the departure of the AFLQ administration to Yeronga.

He pointed out that O’Callaghan Park enjoyed far superior changeroom facilities and more space at a venue that was earmarked for AFL pre-season fixtures as late as last year.

The move was fully endorsed by AFL umpires boss Jeff Gieschen and his department before Christmas.

Like Brisbane, the Gold Coast umpires also turned out in force at their season launch at Surfers Paradise on Wednesday night, with the 36 attendees being a record for the region.

Sunshine Coast-based umpires are training at Fisherman’s Road.

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