A LANDMARK decision will have Colac and District Football League join forces with district umpires this weekend.
League chairman Peter Lucas will don the orange jersey and a whistle as the groups step up their campaign to increase umpire numbers.
Lucas, who has only umpired at Auskick level, will officiate tomorrow’s under-17 clash between Colac Imperials and Forrest at Western Oval.
The first-year league boss said low umpire numbers were still a large concern for the league, along with dwindling junior player numbers, and was more than happy to play his part.
Colac District Football Umpires Association vice-president Fiona Marshall initially approached him.
“It wasn’t something I’d considered doing, but umpiring numbers remain probably the biggest worrying issue for us in the league,” he said.
“I felt anything I can be doing to promote the umpiring cause was worthwhile.”
Lucas hoped others would follow suit and pick up a whistle.
“People will see that anyone can get out there and have a go, they might find they enjoy contributing to the ongoing success of the league,” he said.
“There are probably plenty of ex-players out there who are quite capable but haven’t had an opportunity or don’t want to take the plunge.”
The move follows in the footsteps of Ballarat Football League chairman Michael Toner, a second-year senior football umpire, and South West Football League boss Kevin Lynn, who is also the district’s umpires coach.
Victorian Country Football League general manager of umpiring Gerard Ryan praised Lucas in his initiative ahead of Umpiring Is Everyone’s Business Round next week.
“It’s great that Peter’s doing it, it supports the key message that it really is everyone’s business,” he said.
“Umpiring is something a lot of people get involved with and really love, and while it’s growing in numbers at a state-wide level we’re always willing to take more in local areas.”
Colac district’s umpires association president Luke McCarthy hoped the move would show potential umpires how enjoyable officiating was.
“We don’t expect new umpires to come into a senior umpire’s role, but if we can get them to come into a role with the kids, at least people can do their bit,” McCarthy said.
The umpires association has picked up between 10 and 15 new boundary umpires this season, including Lucas’ sons Brady, 14, and Sam, 12.