Roffey on umpire respect

Following Thanks Ump round on the weekend, we asked AFL goal umpire, Chelsea Roffey, her thoguhts on umpire appreciation.

With Thanks Ump round done and dusted,  we caught up with AFL Goal Umpire, Chelsea Roffey, about respect on the field.

While there is always room for improvement, AFL goal umpire, Chelsea Roffey believes that the relationship between players and umpires is definitely on the way up.

Roffey, who has been umpiring in the AFL since 2004 and is the only female umpire on the AFL list currently,  said that the general level of respect shown by players towards umpires at all levels of the game had grown since she began umpiring.

“I think that certainly starting out as an umpire you can come across some pretty poor treatment and I know that a lot of umpires developing have experienced some poor treatment,” she said.

“Generally speaking, there is more of a consciousness about how important it is to treat umpires with respect.

“Quite often when they start out, they’re developing as well.”

Roffey said the AFL had a responsibility to set an example for the lower-level football leagues in regards to umpire appreciation.

“They level of respect shown by the players in the AFL is really positive and they set a really good example for the lower leagues to follow,” she said,.

“The AFL is really committed to setting that example and it’s important from the very top to respect everyone out there who’s out there doing their best.”

“I’ve copped a few sprays, coming up the ranks, first starting out but more often than not if you can get out there without and go about your business, players and spectators will respect you for it.”

Roffey, who has become somewhat of a household name in the AFL as the first female umpire to officiate on the last day in September last season, said focusing on the job at hand was key to gaining the respect of players and spectators.

“Gender to me has always been irrelevant,” she said.

“The most important thing is you get out there and do the job.

“That’s how you ensure you do receive good treatment and you’re setting the right example.”

Roffey said the greatest challenge of umpiring at the highest level was the intense spotlight under which their decisions are put.

“The level of scrutiny that you experience at AFL level is incredible and I think that a lot of  people don’t’ realise what’s involved with goal umpiring,” she said.

“You’re required to react very quickly and be very nimble on your feet.

“The added AFL cameras and commentators is something that takes a lot of getting used to as well.”

Roffey said the high standards required to make it in the AFL umpiring ranks were a huge part of her continued involvement in goal umpiring, culminating in her move to Melbourne from Brisbane in 2007.

“The skills that you’re required to develop and the ability to handle pressure – it’s not only a fantastic challenge and enjoyable experience but it helps you to develop as a person in other aspects of your life.”

Despite all of the hard work and training, Roffey said opportunities like umpiring a grand final made every cold winter training session worth it.

“That was the ultimate perk,” she said.

“I can recall stepping onto the ground that day and being aware of what was going on but it was just an overwhelming feeling and one day we all live for as umpires for a sense.

“It was very special.”

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