In a further boost for the SFNL Umpiring department, five of the league’s top whistle-blowers have been included on the VFL Development list for the 2016.
The three field umpires from last year’s Division 1 Senior Grand Final, Annie Mirabile, Cai Davies and Luke Porter have all been selected in the squad alongside boundary umpire Dan Ebbott and goal umpire Nick Bridges.
The news comes on the back of SFNL player-turned-umpire Ilya Fridman’s inclusion into the VFL Player to Umpire Program
a fortnight ago. Fridman is the first SFNL officiator to be accepted into this program, which is designed to fast-track the development of former footballers into top-level VFL umpires.
The quintet will train with the VFL umpiring squad every Tuesday and Thursday evenings and will officiate in TAC Cup matches – and possibly even VWFL and VFL Development League (VFL reserves) games – throughout the season
The group will also be hoping to follow in the footsteps of former SFNL umpires Tyler Hankinson, Gareth Verberne, Libby Toovey and Brad Standfield who have all gone on to officiate VFL senior football in recent years.
And the SFNL’s Director of Umpiring Peter Marshall said that according to precedent, it’s possible that any of the five could achieve this goal as early as 2017.
“It has been known that someone, after one year, can go straight on to the senior list where they do VFL senior (games),” Marshall said.
The umpires’ supremo also said that these newly-listed VFL Development umpires could come back and officiate in the SFNL at various stages this year when not picked in TAC Cup, VWFL or VFL Development League games, which would be a boon for the competition.
“They’ll quite possibly come back and umpire this year with our list when not required at VFL level and they’ll impart their knowledge and wisdom and experience that they’re learning up there on our group, which is good,” he said.
“That will help improve the (SFNL) umpiring list too.”
In addition to the five listed in the VFL Development squad, a further six have been selected as VFL rookie umpires.
Tayla Manning, Matt Mahoney, Cam Watts, Tim Fierenzi, Joel Davis and Zach Vandenhoven will all have the opportunity to train with the VFL list at least once a month, while also umpiring in the SFNL. This will give these umpires a taste of what lies ahead if they are to progress up the ranks and will greatly improve their chances of earning selection on the VFL Development list next season.
The news of the umpires’ acceptance into the VFL Development and Rookie lists is a massive endorsement for the SFNL Umpiring group and the programs that Marshall and his predecessor Peter Mair (now at AFL Victoria) have implemented.
Marshall said that the SFNL had become a great environment to develop young umpires and that so many Southern League whistle-blowers had progressed to higher ranks was proof of the fact.
“The SFNL has been a good breeding ground for young umpires to test their skills at VFL level and I look forward to encouraging young umpires, boys and girls, to strive to get the most out of themselves and get to the next level,” Marshall said.
“We are a viable pathway for up-and-coming young men and women who want to go to the next step… and we want to make our football league a really good environment to learn and improve their skills to take it to new levels.”
If you are interested in umpiring in the SFNL in 2016 CLICK HERE.