UMPIRES will have an increased on-field presence during the Wimmera and Horsham District league finals.
Wimmera and District Umpires manager Howard Schier said umpiring resources could be stretched at times during the regular season
“That means our umpires will be able to position themselves in order to make the best decisions on the ground,” he said.
“That’s for a free-kick, an off-the-ball incident or whatever it may be.
“We will also have boundary and goal umpires who are better equipped to handle those off-the-ball incidents.”
Schier said umpires were urged to report any incidents, without concern they might be wrong.
“They certainly shouldn’t feel bad if, after an incident has been discussed thoroughly at the tribunal, a player is found to be not guilty,” he said.
“But we can’t have umpires reporting players or starting investigations about things they haven’t seen because when they get called on to give evidence, they can’t offer up any.”
Schier’s comments come as the father of a Nhill footballer raised concerns about a perceived increase in on-field violence in the under-17 competition.
Dean Wheaton called on umpires to utilise the card system and initiate more investigations in order to crack down on off-the-ball incidents.
“We just have to stop players smacking each other on the footy field,” he said.
“It’s a contact sport and I’m not about taking the contact out of the game, but we need to address non-football attacks.”
Wheaton volunteers as an under-12 umpire and has completed an AFL coaching accreditation program but does not have a position at the Nhill club.
“This isn’t about bagging umpires as I also volunteer as an umpire,” he said.
For an investigation to take place it needs to be initiated by an umpire’s report or a club.
A club must cover the cost of any investigation or tribunal hearing it initiates.
The club will be reimbursed the costs if the offending party is found guilty.
Wimmera league chief commissioner Trevor Albrecht said the system was in place so petty incidents were not investigated.
“I think it’s the best way we can approach it,” he said.
He said he thought the level of violence in football was lower than 20 years ago, but acknowledged there were incidents that went under the radar.
He said the commission had talked to clubs about videoing games to minimise what was missed.
“We mainly talked about senior games but it may need to be juniors as well,” he said.
“You are still going to miss incidents off the play – it’s just not fiscally possible to have enough cameras.
“That’s where we need our goal umpires to be vigilant.”