Riverland Football League umpires are always at a low ebb after the league cracked down on abuse.

Local football umpire Amelia Magiarapis is not only new to the world of local football umpiring, but she was well aware of the abuse that kept many away from weekend work.

1 Australia is one of the declining group of umpires for the South Australian Riverland Football League (RFL), helping to help the community.

“I will definitely listen to this field umpire, but you have to stop it,” Amelia said.

In the past, the league had enough MP umpires, both in the six-team Riverland Football League and the then eight-team Second Tier India Independent League.

But now, they are struggling to cover three A-grade games over the weekend.

“I also believe that some of the umpires on the field have heard (as part of it).

“They umpire on the field in the lower grade then they go and boundary umpire in the senior grade and they hear that when they get close to the boundary line – that has some effect.”

Crack in league abuse

As umpire numbers decline, the league is taking steps to curb crowd misbehavior on Saturday.

Following reports of anti-social behavior, including abuse against umpires, the RFL introduced a new volunteer role in the games that would be for police supporters.

This volunteer will walk with the umpires between the change room and the field and will contact the authorities if they hear or see any inappropriate behavior from the crowd.

Part of the big crowd in the 201 grand finale of the Riverland Football League. (

Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

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New RFL President Mark Wright said both offenders who spoke with these volunteers for more than a week would face a face-to-face ban.

“There’s a year back in this RFL after a year’s leave,” he said.

“If we can help umpires with this kind of behavior and make football day a safer place and an attractive place of atmosphere, then hopefully we will get some more umpires.

Fitness, fun and pumping for pocket money

Max Jerry is the next generation behind the more experienced local umpires.

He is only 16 years old, but has already taken to the field playing senior football umpires in Riverland.

“I had some friends doing this and I thought I’d come out and let go and take some pocket money too,” he said.

“It’s good fitness, money is good and you’re still a part of the game even when you don’t play.

“I hear it [the abuse], But I don’t really think much about it because you know it’s going to happen. “

A girl holding a football, a man holding a football in his hand and a boy holding a football in his hand.
Riverland Football League umpires Amelia Magiarapis, Mick Trussell and Max Jericho say one of the reasons for the declining number of umpires is abuse. (

ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook

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Mr Trussell began umpiring in 2008 and is now tasked with training new local umpires, who are due to take the field on Saturday.

“The best thing about staying in my involvement is to be an umpire and I’ve been doing this for a long time and have been having fun,” he said.

“If you can’t play and are interested in bursts, definitely come out and umpire, it’s not bad.

“We make mistakes, we’re just human.”

The young umpire is looking for a goal

Every winter weekend in South Australia, the 2 Country Football League plays games for juniors and seniors, in which the umpire needs a department.

Shane Harris, head of umpiring at the South Australian National Football League, said COVID-1 had led to a decline in the number of umpires, with many leagues facing either short-term or full cancellations in 2020.

He said the league would encourage regional youth to take on senior executives who have served the league for many years.

An Australian rule football umpire throws the ball in the air.
Finding young umpires to replace the big ones has proved to be a challenge for the country’s football leagues. (

Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

)

“We have to be careful about young boys who don’t go to the country with their football and recruit him,” Mr Harris said.

“We had to make some promotions at school and just outline the benefits of umpiring.

The umpire, who will be assisting the RFL, is one of the umpires’ next crop, Amelia said players and supporters can learn a lot from going to umpire training.

“If you join the umpire’s team, you will get better praise for the effort put in by the umpire.

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