Gareth is one of our AFL listed boundary umpires who can frequently be seen running the track at Coorparoo with finesse and speed. He also likes to throw a lot of chat.
How did you first become an umpire?
I didn’t come from either a football or running background like most of our boundary umpires. My dad is a community field umpire and for years tried to convince me to take up boundary umpiring to improve my fitness for other sports I was playing. I finally said yes one year and the first session I attended was the Mt Coot-The Handicapped Invitational. Dad threw me under the bus and suggested to Matthew McKenzie that I should start near the back of what ended up being a 14km loop due to the usual route being closed following a street-luger crash. I came dead last by probably 20-30 minutes. Thankfully things have improved slightly!
What do you do outside of umpiring?
Outside of umpiring I’m quite involved with university where I’m studying medicine. I find medicine and umpiring provide a good balance as they place very different demands upon my faculties and it means I’ve always got something to take me away from the other when needed.
What was your first game like?
If I’m honest I can’t remember much about my very first game at all other than it was at Yeronga. I remember my first NEAFL game very well though. I was quite fortunate to get an opportunity to umpire NEAFL football early in my first year and debuted at Morningside in torrential rain. I came off covered in mud but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
What has been your most memorable moment as an umpire?
I’ve been extremely lucky to experience a number of fantastic games and moments already in my umpiring career however the one that stands out the most is umpiring the curtain raiser to the 2014 AFL Grand Final at the MCG. To be able to run around on such iconic Australian sports ground on AFL Grand Final day was incredible. Add in the fact we got to stay for the main game and head down to the umpires’ rooms afterwards and it was a very special day.
You’ve just been selected onto the AFL panel for 2016, congratulations! What have you had to do up to this point to gain selection? Walk us through the process.
Thanks! The long-term process has been to work my way up through QAFL/NEAFL football and participate in development experiences such as U16 and U18 national championships. Additionally, umpiring the State League grand final of your home state is a generally accepted prerequisite for AFL selection.
What’s a typical training session like for you?
It varies quite a bit between shorter interval sessions at high intensity and long continuous runs at a much slower pace. My current week usually consists of three shorter, hard sessions and three medium to long continuous runs with one rest day.
Any advice for younger boundary umpires?
Fitness is always the predominant factor with boundary umpiring and it’s something that is relatively easy to achieve providing you’re willing to put in the time and commitment. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to ask questions and try learn as much as possible from coaches and fellow umpires. I was very fortunate to build strong bonds with some of the more experienced umpires early in my career who took me under their wings and helped my progression.
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.