Some of the abhorrent abuse directed at umpires by players, coaches, parents and spectators this season has been appalling, according to the Riddell League’s general manager Jordan Doyle.
“If this ridiculous behaviour continues, football matches will not have umpires and our clubs will have to fill the void,” Doyle warned last week, calling for the abuse of umpire to stop immediately.
He claimed that since returning to the football fields and netball courts in 2021 (with 2020 wiped out through the COVID-19 pandemic) a common theme across Victoria was that player and crowd behaviour was at an all-time low.
Some coaches also did not escape criticism from the general manager.
He revealed the league had had “an alarming number of incidents of extremely poor behaviour by coaches”.
Doyle’s statement directed at players, coaches, spectators and parents was by far the strongest put out by the league this season, and it will be no surprise to see it become a talking point among the football-netball fraternity.
He urged players and spectators to remember this was community football and netball, and not the AFL.
“Our players are not AFL standard and therefore, neither are our umpires. Players and umpires will both make mistakes,” he said.
Doyle suggested that while it was great for parents and spectators who came to RDFNL matches to have some fun and banter, if they were coming to hurl abuse or ‘carry on’ inappropriately, they should find somewhere else to go.
Reflecting on the 2021 season, after an extremely difficult 2020 for so many, Dayle stated it had been fantastic to have community sport return and it was wonderful to have players, coaches, spectators, umpires and parents return to RDFNL venues for junior and senior football and netball.
He said like many clubs across community football in Victoria, the league had seen a considerable drop off in umpire numbers due to a number of factors.
Doyle acknowledged the league was very fortunate to have the Riddell Umpires Association facilitate all junior and senior matches each weekend, unlike many other leagues that had not had a full complement of umpires.
“We understand how passionate our coaches are and we are ever so thankful for those coaches who put their hands up to volunteer their time to coach a team, whether it be football or netball, at senior or junior level,” he said.
“It can be an all-consuming task and people are juggling that role with work and family life.
“However, just because you have put your hand up to take on the role, it does not give you the right to abuse the position of power you have,” he stated in a direct message to coaches.
“Our coaches play a very crucial role as role models for their players.
“Each year we have a number of players who walk away from the game they love because of a poor experience the year before and a lot of that can be attributed to their coach.”
Doyle stated 95 per cent of coaches in the league’s competition did “a wonderful job and this is appreciated”.
He called on the other five per cent, who were creating an unsuitable environment, to rethink their coaching philosophy and remember why they put their hand up in the first place.
Finally, Doyle wished everyone “good luck” for the remainder of the season.
“We are two thirds of the way through and a wonderful finals series is awaiting us … but let’s get the behaviour back on track so everyone can enjoy their community sport,” he said.