From Melbourne to Texas: Riddell Umpires take to Nationals

Over forty teams will be making the trip to Austin for Nationals next week, making the long journey to compete.  One other team will be there, but for a whole different reason.

Melbourne-based Riddell Umpires, the officiating association of the Riddell District Football League, will be participating in this year's National Championships, becoming the first team of umpires from Australia to do so.   Founded in 1983, Riddell Umpires have become one of the largest and most innovative umpiring associations in Australia.

Details of the trip provided by senior coach Michael O'Keeffe:

16 umpires from the Riddell Umpires in Melbourne will be flying to Texas in early October to take part in the USAFL Nationals.  From what started as a casual conversation at the International Cup in 2014 about the lack of umpires in the USA, ended with the largest group of Australians to travel to the tournament.  

The main purpose of the trip is to assist in training more Americans to become umpires in our great game. America has just over 100 registered umpires in the whole country and with a growing love of AFL, the USAFL need to increase umpiring numbers. Riddell Umpires will facilitate level 1 and 2 accreditation, coach and mentor locals, along with officiating in games during the trip. 

The tournament involves 36 male teams in 4 divisions along with 9 women’s teams. Over 40 US states are represented. The footy takes place over 2 days with 5 grounds in operation.  This is the only time of the year that all teams can get together so it’s a huge festival for all things Aussie Rules.  

During the two week trip the Riddell Umpires will also enjoy all that the USA has to offer including visits to Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo, a College and NFL Football game along with sightseeing in four cities. 

This is a wonderful professional learning experience for the traveling party who will be able to impart their native knowledge of AFL umpiring onto people who have not grown up with our game. 

To follow the trip that starts October 8 visit

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