AFL umpire Matt Stevic shows the way to students at Bishop Druitt College yesterday.
AFL umpire Matt Stevic shows the way to students at Bishop Druitt College yesterday. Leigh Jensen

Opportunities knock for umpires

AFL umpire Matt Stevic knows a thing or two about handling pressure.

Stevic paid a free kick against Geelong in last year’s qualifying final with only a minute remaining that cost the Cats its shot at victory.

With more than 63,000 people screaming and Geelong key forward Cam Mooney letting Stevic know what he thought of the decision and its consequences, the whistle-blower held his nerve although he admits he was also holding his breath.

“From an umpiring perspective I was glad I got the right call and it was deemed correct because if it was deemed incorrect I certainly wouldn’t have done any other finals that year and the media would’ve been probably 10 times tougher on me that what they were,” Stevic recalled.

“At the end of the day we try to get decisions right and if they’re right, that’s our job.

“If we muck up some basic things we’re disappointed but thankfully we made the right call.”

Stevic was at Bishop Druitt College yesterday as part of the 2011 Umpiring Roadshow that is travelling through NSW this week. Promoting the role he plays, Stevic was trying to recruit possible umpires pointing out the positive aspects of taking on the role.

“It’s about letting kids know, whether they be boys or girls, the benefits involved in umpiring,” he said.

“You can start at a local level and it’s fantastic for your confidence to be able think on your feet, make decisions, to gain some fitness and also get a reasonable amount of money along the way; even at a local level compared to some other jobs.

“It’s great for them to get involved, there’s lots of benefits for them.”

The experienced umpire who is about to start his eighth year blowing the whistle at the top level added that being an umpire as a young person develops plenty of skills that can be used later in life.

“The skills you learn in umpiring relate to any other job or career you may want to do in the future,” he said.

“We get trained a lot at the elite level about how you should speak as well as when you should or shouldn’t speak to players to effectively manage the game as that’s what we’re there to do as umpires.

“It’s great to build your confidence and to develop outside all of those other skills outside of that like your fitness and your job of making decisions throughout the game.”



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