This week, spare a moment to consider umpiring in the lead up to Umpire Appreciation Round.
This weekend the WorkSafe VCFL joins with all football across Australia in recognising the efforts of those who participate in the game as umpires.
It is part of the game which unfortunately is poorly portrayed too often and the motives behind why people umpire is not appreciated by most.
Research with umpires has identified that 67% take up the role because just like players they love the game of football and umpiring provides an outstanding opportunity to become involved.
An increasing number of females are part of those who are becoming umpires and in some WorkSafe VCFL affiliated groups 14% of their membership are females, with the average female membership being 9% across all groups.
Umpiring is proving to be a very attractive option for females to remain actively involved in football when there are not playing opportunities for them.
However the major issue facing umpiring is the ability to retain participants particularly the hundreds of young umpires which join WorkSafe VCFL affiliated groups each year.
The numbers of registered umpires over recent years has grown in affiliated groups by around 5% a year but new umpires joining the sport should see growth of closer to 15%, however many only remain as an umpire for a very short time.
Twenty percent of those who retire have expressed that this was due to lack of respect for umpires from players and coaches and another 18% cited poor match day environments which encompasses crowd abuse as the reason why they had left the sport.
Umpires are people who enjoy being part of football but if there is not a change to see greater levels of recognition that they, like all players, coaches and supporters, are simply enjoying participating in sport, then the ability to attract and retain umpires will become more difficult and greater reliance will be placed on clubs to find their own umpires.
This week and for the remaining rounds of the season show some recognition to umpires that their efforts are just as important as any of the participants on the ground.