Gippsland Umpires Association president Chris Behrendorff has called on the Gippsland football community to throw its support behind local umpires associations this season.
Season 2015 is underway, but injuries and retirements have left GUA short-handed from the opening bounce.
While a shortage of umpires is hardly a new issue and not one confined to Gippsland, Behrendorff said the current situation had the potential for wider ramifications.
‘‘It’s a combination of our experienced guys getting too old to meet the demands of umpiring senior footy and our young umpires not being experienced enough to take their place,’’ Behrendorff said.
‘‘We don’t have the luxury of fielding young umpires with experienced ones, because there just aren’t enough of them.
‘‘We’re getting to a point where football is under threat and no one wants that.’’
Behrendorff said GUA was looking for members of any age, experience or ability, but particularly those aged 30-40 years and willing to take on a central umpire role.
Behrendorff also backed the community to respond in the umpires’ hour of need.
‘‘I don’t doubt the football community appreciates the important role umpires play every weekend, but perhaps they don’t quite understand the seriousness of the situation,’’ he said.
‘‘There are plenty of volunteers out there putting their hands up to be club umpires week in, week out, but not willing to join the association and do games outside their own club.
‘‘They are the ones in particular we are asking to step up, people that have a good understanding of the game and care about local footy.
‘‘We offer a great culture of fun and fitness and you get paid for your time as well.’’
As an added incentive, AFL Gippsland is offering one free double pass to select AFL games during the 2015 premiership season for the first 30 umpires to register with Gippsland Umpires Association or Sale Umpires Association between Friday, April 24 and Friday, May 29.
For more information and full terms and conditions, visit www.aflgippsland.sportingpulse.net or contact GUA president Chris Behrendorff 0412 036 689 or SUA president Peter Perillo on 0448 304 484.