‘Umpiring with my Family’11th April, 2020
The umpiring team at the Yarra Junior Football League is large group with people of various ages, experience and roles. But within that large group is a small group, in fact a three-person group that couldn’t be any tighter. The Clifford family, with father Simon, son Oliver and daughter Macey, are paving the way for families joining the YJFL umpiring ranks.
Simon and Oliver, both field umpires are in their third season and Macey, a boundary umpire in her second season. Father Simon is originally from England and started playing football at Old Whitefriars Collegians. He played about 50 games over 8 seasons for the club and found that his experiences on the field have helped with his umpiring all these years later. Oliver played as a youngster but finished around the U13 level.
To umpire with your family takes a lot of trust and cooperation. “When Oli is in control of the game, I’ve certainly got full trust in him and there’s no question about that. He learnt how to do it very quickly” says Simon about his son.
“Macey is one of the best that I’ve umpired with, she’s very consistent with her throws. With her not playing much football, only at the school level, she was a bit nervous to start and with making decisions. But now she’s great and very efficient.”
Simon appreciates the opportunity that’s been given to his family, and as big footy fans they enjoy keeping involved in the game and helping out how they can to the junior levels.
Oli, the most experienced of the group, knows what games will be easier to umpire and what will take more effort to control. “The highest we’ve umpired is under 14 boys. They know what they’re doing, they’re easy to umpire. They don’t need that many instructions when on the field.”
But Simon values the knowledge they can hand down to the younger levels. “We’re happy to do the younger ones. We’ve done them all the way through the ages. It’s good to know you’re helping them develop their footy and the rules. But it is good sometimes to do the older age groups, it is quite often freer flowing.
The motivating YJFL coaches help all the umpires on training night, whether that be their fitness, whistle blowing techniques or running patterns. For Macey as a boundary umpire this involves getting the momentum right to throw the ball back in.
Ultimately the Clifford’s value their opportunity to umpire their favourite sport every Sunday. When asked if they enjoy being on the field together, Simon the father joked back “well someone’s got to drive them there.”