“Statistics tell us that if you can bring in new referees and keep them in our operational network longer than two years, they are significantly more likely to stay much longer.”
Auld, who has coached senior teams in recent seasons and a junior team last year, believes the dissent rule has reduced refereeing incidents at the community level, although it’s too early for anything but anecdotal evidence.
“There’s always little little fires, but there’s nowhere near arms in the air and referee chat-backs used to be there – that’s pretty much gone with the referee protestation rule,” he said.
“What I’m disappointed with is the behavior on the other side of the fence and everyone has to admit that. This is a community opportunity and plays an important role in keeping referees in the system.”
The AFL tested a three-phase coaching box card system in Queensland football last season to deal with repeated instances of unacceptable behavior towards umpires that could result in a coach being removed from a game.
South Australia even had a SANFL youth round mid-year, requiring all coaches and officials to sit during the game to contain emotions and stamp out insults and disagreements.
Club penalties and Premiership point deductions are among penalties for improper conduct towards referees, with the SANFL canceling several youth games last year for this reason.
The women’s refereeing vision is well underway, including 400 new or refurbished facilities with gender-neutral dressing rooms since AFLW’s inception in 2017, to bring the national tally to over 1000.
Last season also saw a 63 percent increase in women on the AFLW umpire panel, while initiatives include the newly established pre-season talent academy for women umpires. This academy includes 17 female referees who are talented in community football.
“We launched our vision for women’s football at the end of 2021… and there are a number of initiatives to increase the number of women referees,” said Auld.
“We want to make sure their environment – facilities, coaching, culture and pathways – are much better and more accessible than in the past.
“Of course, if we get more female referees; that will help us with ours [overall] Shortage. But the initiatives we are aiming for over the next three to four years for 1000 more judges per year are gender neutral.”
https://www.smh.com.au/sport/afl/afl-making-inroads-to-fix-chronic-community-football-umpire-shortage-20230305-p5cphe.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport AFL is making strides to address the community’s chronic shortage of umpires