The AFL Umpiring Department with support from The Scanlon Foundation took an exciting first step in the Umpiring Diversity Strategy when they launched the Umpiring Diversity Academy at the Australian International Academy this week. This academy has been developed in partnership with AFL Victoria and Essendon District Football League and two-time AFL Grand Final Umpire Mathew Nicholls was on hand to welcome the students to umpiring.

The AFL is focused on increasing the number of umpires from Multicultural backgrounds, and knows by diversifying umpiring groups there will be greater recruitment and retention of umpires.

Currently, the AFL Umpiring group has very little diversity and this doesn’t mirror Australia’s society. The AFL is committed to delivering initiatives that will offer opportunities for people from multicultural backgrounds to embrace umpiring and hopefully one day umpire in the AFL competition.

These initiatives include a Multicultural Pathway including the chance to umpire at the National Kickstart Championships and All Nations Cup, as well as fast tracking on to the umpiring talent pathway for those academy members with high potential.

The AFL is also rolling out an umpiring lesson during the Multicultural Schools Program that will expose up to 20,000 students annually to the opportunities umpiring can provide.

The AFL will implement diversity academies in all States of Australia with the aim of supporting multicultural umpires transition to community football.

The AFL wishes the students well in the program and hope they thoroughly enjoy their involvement in umpiring. Who knows? Maybe one day, one or more of these students will umpire an AFL Grand Final at the MCG.