Player to Umpire Program in the Southern Football League

Umpiring is a great way to stay involved in the game you love when playing is no longer an option.

Former VFL / SFL Player Ilya Fridman had his playing career cut short by injuries.  Instead of being lost to the game forever, Ilya made the switch to umpiring and hasn’t looked back.  See his story below.

I was a bit of a late bloomer to football. I played for Bentleigh FC in the under 17s and 19s before getting an opportunity with the Casey Scorpions in the VFL.

I played with Casey for one season and was exposed to the commitment and professionalism that was required to compete at the elite level. 

Unfortunately due to work commitments, I had to cut my 2nd year pre-season short and returned to Bentleigh FC where I was lucky enough to play in a Premiership before moving across to the Dingley FC.

I don't think I could have started my first year at a new club in a more horrid way, suffering from glandular fever in the opening rounds before missing 4 weeks with a collar bone injury and then in the final 2 minutes of my first game back, I dislocated my knee and broke my patella which was a season ending injury.

You learn a lot about your body once you've done a serious injury and realise that the road to full recovery can be a slow process. As soon as I was walking again I was in the mindset that I could start running again and decided to give playing football another go, which resulted in lower back and spinal injuries from over compensation and once again I was back to stage one of rehab.

I still wanted to be involved in local football and a couple of workmates suggested I should get involved with umpiring. Whilst I wasn't sure if I was ready to receive a bit of barrage from the sidelines, I still considered the thought and quickly realised that the benefits overwhelmingly outweighed the cons. 

As part of my rehab to full recovery, fitness and core strength were going to be my two greatest hurdles and after my first couple of pre-season training sessions with the SFL umpires I quickly realised that I was in the right environment that would assist me with achieving my goals. I guess the most motivating part was that I was improving my fitness, building core strength and getting paid to do it. 

I still miss going out there and chasing the footy, kicking a goal and singing the team song after a tough fought win, however, umpiring definitely has its benefits as well that I don't think can be compromised.

Not only do you have the "best seat at the game" but your always in the middle of the action, your fitness is constantly improving as is your confidence and ability to interact with players, coaches and supporters. Did I mention you get paid to do it all as well?’


Interested in becoming involved as a Field, Boundary or Goal Umpire?

Get in the Game. Become an Umpire.  If you love footy, you'll love being an umpire.

Peter Mair - Director of Umpiring: 0418 313 359


Toby Jedwab – SFL Administration: 9553 5644

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