Aussie Umps' US Adventure

Jeff Pedretti is known by the locals of Daylesford as a community man. To the umpires involved with the 2005 US AFL National Championships, Jeff is known as a passionate man, a man willing to conquer all obstacles, so as to fulfil his dream of umpiring Australian Rules Football in the US.

Most people are unaware that the US has an Australian Rules Football national competition. With 44 ‘parent clubs’ nationally, the sport is experiencing continued growth and attention. The national tournament, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, attracted 581 male players, which included 162 Australians and 40 women players, including 2 Australians.

For a long time, it has been a vision of Jeff’s to be involved with the competition. A personal trainer and proprietor of a Gym in Daylesford, Jeff has been involved with umpiring since back in the 1980’s. He has spent the last 3 years umpiring in the junior ‘bush’ leagues, helping out whenever needed. Jeff explained “I believe in umpiring properly, so the kids don’t develop bad habits.”

When did you become interested in US Footy?
One day my mate, who lives in the US now, said he was playing Australian Rules Football with the Arizona Hawks. I thought he was joking! After this, I looked into the sport in the US, and soon enough, it became a dream of mine to one day go and umpire over there.”

What was your experience like?
“Awesome! It was very emotional. I umpired 12 games in total, including the Grand Final. I felt so proud and honoured to umpire with such a great bunch of people. I felt welcome and we had so much fun. Words cannot explain the buzz surrounding the event. Everyone there had a passion, and it drove me to umpire with a passion. Australia lacks that passion.”

Did you gain any new insights of umpiring the game whilst over there?
“I felt that I was part of the game over there. I blended in and wasn’t pushed out of the way; there wasn’t a segregation of players and umpires – we were all part of the game. I learnt a new aspect of professionalism over there; everything from the organisation to the bonding of umpires as one unit. I have brought all this back with me from the US and I will carry it onto the field in Australia.

Would you go back?
“If I had the opportunity to go back, I would be the first one to get on the plane. It was an honour to umpire with the Australians there, and Adrian Panozzo was especially helpful. I enjoyed umpiring over there, because everyone showed me so much respect, it made me umpire with confidence and enjoyment. I am still in training to umpire the local junior leagues and I have in my future sights another trip to umpire in the US.”

Lauren Hayes

AFL Game Development

courtesy of the AFL website -

- Lauren Hayes

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