This week we feature one of our community umpires, Jeff Hunter. Jeff is passionate about his football and is an enthusiastic participant of the South Brisbane community group.
How did you first become an umpire?
I was the boundary umpire for Sandgate & one game I was talking to Wayne McGuinness and he said "Why don't you come & join us? You getting ripped off here." So I did.
What do you do outside of umpiring?
I play and umpire with the Ferny Grove Falcons, and I also play guitar and bass in various music projects as well as write songs. I call myself a non-singer songwriter.
What was your first game like?
I had to overcome a lot of ableism (the disability equivalent of racism) from some people who thought I couldn’t join the umpires. But I did the game which was really cool and the guys welcomed me to the Association. Ableism is their problem not mine.
What has been your most memorable moment as an umpire?
The 1999 U/18 Grand Final Alex Hills v Morningside. The panthers got home by a point. I now call it the "Chelsea" Grand Final (who I did the game with). After the match the nerves & excitement of the week took its toll and I shed a tear... Or a 100. I also must mention the U/18 game two years later when a 7 point half time margin turn into an 86 point win.
I told my mother in 2012 that I would quit umpiring, but she did not want me to. She said "Oh you can umpire next year…& the next…Don't worry about me.” When she passed away I decided to continue for mum and when I got the 2013 women Grand Final it was the perfect way for me to honour her. Mum was the reason I did that season.
How do you prepare for each game?
I make sure my bag is packed, drink plenty of water and play some music if I got time. At the ground I go and see the umps for the day get to know the ones that I haven't met before. I don't care who wins I only care about us having a good game.
What’s a typical training session like for you?
I do my laps warm up take time to do extra stretches and I like do some throw ins to see if I can improve that.
What challenges do you face as an umpire?
Discrimination and ableism. I have had players and officials refuse to shake my hand and trainers passing me on because they don't want to treat me. Sometimes even fellow umpires refuse to look at me or patronise me in front of the players but some players noticed this was going on and after the game they came straight away and congratulated me on my game. The out pouring of support was overwhelming by all other umpires which made me feel better.
Any advice for younger umpires?
Yes, don't let any personal clashes get in the way of your umpiring. It frustrates me when I hear kids giving up just because someone rubbed them the wrong way. Some kids get overwhelmed when they umpire with adults. I say don't be, there no need to be. Allow yourself to be mentored by more than one person. Make your decisions with conviction as a lack of it will make you look unsure and will spark arguing.
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.