Mark Noonan AFLNT's Umpiring Manager gives you an overview of what happens every week in terms of an umpiring department. A great insight into the work that goes into Umpiring.

Earlier this week I was having one of my regular chats with one of the Premier League coaches which I do through-out the NTFL season and we where discussing the up coming round of the NTFL being "Umpiring Is Everyone’s Business – let’s all have a positive impact on the game" Round.

The League coach said "Noons, you really need to tell the football community about all the (umpiring) stuff that happens behind the scenes that they wouldn’t know about, like the Interstate Field Umpires AFLNT bring up to Darwin, Green Shirt 1st year umpires, coaching and observations and what else occurs at your Monday and Wednesday night at umpiring training".

The NTFL Umpiring group is just like any football club really it has its fitness freaks, die hard old blokes who always willing to help out, cheeky characters and the Gen Y teenagers who all reckon they should be doing League football because I’ve done 20 games now, but they all have one passion to be involved and a part of our great game.

Every dry-season we kick off our NTFL umpiring recruitment for the next season and it starts locally at fun runs and the half marathon. We also advertise for interstate field umpires around Australia’s 173 other umpiring groups via emailing out our 3 page Interstate Field Umpires Brochure. Once our application closing date in mid august, we sort the interstate applications and interview then before we chose our top 4 field umpires for the whole season. Then AFLNT fly these new recruits up to the Top End and we also pay bond for their house and help them find them work just like the 8 Premier League clubs. We also get up some of the other interstate field umpires from other state leagues on 2 or 3 week exchange programs to help add to local NTFL Umpires group to add extra competition for league spots.

We also have our green shirt 1st year umpiring program, this is a part of the national program where all 1st year umpires wear a green uniform to show that they are new and are learning the umpiring craft. Majority of our green shirt umpires come from our dry season NT Thunder Juniors program where they field umpire the u12’s and u10’s. We now have over 35 junior NTFL players who umpire the opposition day to the day they play. They train mainly on our Monday skills night as Wednesday is our main fitness night the teenagers are already footy training Tuesday and Thursday’s so they are getting their fitness. Over my last 7 years in the NT we have had a lot junior players whom have umpired as they wanted to learn the rules and become better players such as high profile guys like: Steven May (Gold Coast Suns), Michael Gugliotta (Gold Coast Reserves), Dean Staunton (NT Thunder).

I now have 14 NTFL umpiring coaching staff this season across the 3 umpiring disciplines of Field, Boundary and Goal with most still running around in games. They pin point certain umpires they need to observe in certain grades (usually the higher grades, but more focus on lower levels this season) and conduct match day observation sheets. After the match day observation they have write up a feedback sheet on the umpires they observe on the weekend’s matches. Information like Match Management, free kicks – correct, missed, unwarranted, positioning – 20-25m side on to the contest, running, bouncing – straight, off-line or recall are just some of the things on a field umpire feedback sheet and then hand it to them after training on a Monday or Wednesday and if there is vision go through it with the field umpire to help them fully understand what improvements need to made for next time. So we have try and observe 163 umpires as much as possible to keep them on the right track.

163 umpires sounds like a lot of people, but really it is not when the NTFL competition has grown by an extra 7 games every weekend this 2012-13 NTFL season. We now have 43 official NTFL matches every weekend and that doesn’t count the extra premier league match for the first 4 weeks of the season. We have to try and fill a bare minimum of 210 appointments every weekend, take out injured umpires, un-availabilities, junior player/umpires and other shift workers and we have a logistic nightmare every Monday night at the selection table after training (where we have left the office after 11.00pm on occasions). So that just show how many umpires double or triple up most weekends of the NTFL competition to ensure we have qualified umpires for the 43 games each weekend. As the competition has grown so fast over the last 3 years we are now seeing the dads and some mum’s having to field umpire u14 matches on Saturday mornings because we simply can’t fill every match anymore. If we had field, boundary and goal umpires for all 43 NTFL matches we would need 282 people to umpire without a double up.

AFL Northern Territory is always recruiting people of all ages (13+) to give umpiring a go, especially Ex-footballers to give something back to the game. So, if you’re interested in giving umpiring a crack either in Field, Boundary or Goal come down to TIO Stadium No. 2 on Monday or Wednesday Nights from 5.40pm and will be surprise how good the comradely is.

This Umpiring Is Everyone’s Business national campaign is to support umpires at the community level of the game and emphasises that everyone involved in Australian Football - coaches, players, administrators, parents and supporters – has a role to play in creating a positive match day environment. So please think before you yell out any abuse at an umpire (especially this weekend), because this will help our NTFL Umpiring retention rates and if we all do our little bit to create a positive match day environment the more official umpires we have.


Milestone Avenue- Round 11:

    • Angus McKenzie-Wills – League Goal Debut – Tiwi Bombers vs. Darwin
    • Gary Turbill – 450th Field Umpiring Game
    • Mark Noonan – 150th League Field Game
    • Rob Lind – 50th Women’s Field Umpiring Game