Facing an official crisis

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TRARALGON and District Junior Football League is facing an official crisis.

A shortage of umpires has left the league stranded in the lower age groups, with parents forced to stand in and preside over a number of matches.

“It’s certainly a little bit of a problem,” league president Adam Bermingham said.

“At this stage we’re not covering any of the under 10 games due to short numbers and only covering some of the under 12s when everyone is available.”

The league has also been forced to request clubs provide under 16 players who have a bye to help officiate fixtures.

Bermingham said the league was in talks with the Victorian Country Football League about its recruitment options, and would begin targeting secondary school students as potential referees.

“We’re looking at kids who want to come and have a run around, a bit of enjoyment and get paid to keep fit,” he said.

“It gives them a chance to be involved in football and be around it (particularly for those who can’t play).”

The downturn comes after strong numbers in the umpiring ranks last season, and Bermingham estimated the league was about 20 whistleblowers short at present.

With umpire admonishment now abolished, and a ‘green shirt’ program helping crowds identify learning officials, Bermingham said new referees could get involved without trepidation.

“We used to have a lot of arguments from the sidelines… the league has been very supportive and stamped that out,” he said.

“If anyone is caught being quite objective toward a new or learning umpire the league will support us to their full extent.”

Bermingham said there were many pathways in Victoria for umpires to rise through the ranks and potentially make a career out of the game.

“They get selected by different panels across Victoria Country footy leagues and get the opportunity to officiate in… carnivals through to senior football carnivals,” he said.

Umpire training is held Mondays and Wednesdays from 5.30pm to 7pm at Traralgon West Sporting complex and all newcomers are welcome.

For more information about umpiring phone Adam Bermingham on 0439 855 813.