This month we're profiling AFL Goal Umpire Alistair. Alistair was fortunate enough to umpire the curtain raiser at the 'G on AFL Grand Final day in 2015 and made his debut in the AFL in Round 5 of this year. His zip and enthusiasm contributes a lot of energy to the Goalie group at Coorparoo.
What made you first want to become an umpire?
I was playing under 11’s in the local Toowoomba competition and had a lot of friends playing in the under 13s after my game. While I was never much of a player I really wanted to help out and running the boundary to assist the field umpire seemed like a fun thing to do especially when the pay was a pie and a can of soft drink! I loved it. One day I volunteered to be a goal umpire out at Goondiwindi for the 13s and the Regional umpire manager was the field umpire, he told me he liked what he saw and that I should take up goal umpiring. Haven’t looked back since.
What do you do outside of umpiring?
I’m a full time student studying pharmacy at the University of Queensland and I work twice
a week in a community pharmacy as a dispensing assistant.
Has football always been a part of your life before umpiring?
I come from Gatton originally which is known as being a big rugby league capital in the Lockyer Valley but luckily for me my dad hails from country Victorian and grew up playing football so a keen AFL following was inevitable. I’ve had a keen interest in AFL as early back as 2002 and still remember the occasion trips down to the Gabba with dad.
How have you found the change from State League to AFL? Is there something in particular that you’ve really had to adjust to?
The media, crowds and the overall pace of the game were the three biggest changes I’ve found so far. I think pace would be the most important thing to take on board and adjust to.
What has been your most memorable moment as an umpire?
The first time decision I had in my debut game would top the list.
Are there any particular coaches or umpires who have had an impact on you in your time as an Umpire?
There’s been so many, to put it simply everyone who’s given me feedback over the years to get me to this point have had an important impact.
A lot of people have the misconception that there is not too much fitness involved with goal umpiring. However, what’s actually involved with fitness and match preparation for a goal umpire at the AFL level?
Fitness wise we have a 3km time trial to run at the start of each year and during the season along with agility tests and beep tests. For the 3km trials we’re set individual times and we’re expected to make those times and make steady improvements throughout the year. Happy to report I’ve been under my required times!
What advice do you have for anyone thinking of becoming an umpire?
Be open and respond positively to feedback, in the end it can be what makes or breaks a potential umpire and just keep putting in the effort each week and the opportunities will present themselves.
Umpires Of the AFLQUA
The AFLQUA represents umpires all over Queensland who officiate in everything from the local community league on a Saturday afternoon, to the AFL.