Y umpiring is changing their approach

GEN Y the affectionate term for those born roughly between 1980 and 2000 is often the centre of some not-so-affectionate observations from more mature generations.

Known for their disconcerting sense of self, Gen Ys aren't afraid to speak their mind and backchat their elders. They live at home for longer than their predecessors did, save for retirement plans (in other words, they're tight with money), and are non-committal; if they don't like the job they're in, they'll leave.

In a field such as umpiring, attracting new recruits is hard enough, let alone retaining them.

So with the future of umpiring destined to fall on the shoulders of Gen Y and beyond, umpiring coaches are employing new strategies to reach their evolving audience.

Coaching Generation Y was a presentation topic at the AFL Umpire Coach Professional Development Program national conference held in Melbourne over the weekend.

Presenter Hugh Moore, a coach of 20 years experience and currently with Dandenong junior umpires, says Gen Y gets a bad rap. As a coach, the discussion generated from the 'outspoken' youngsters in his group helps the entire panel to develop.

"I love Gen Y. I think they're fantastic because they've got one real attribute: they're not frightened to talk primarily about themselves," Moore says.

He has devised a training program that centres on the umpires identifying positives and negatives from their weekend match performances. He addresses the group on the evening's main topic, and the umpires then take the floor to cover a list of subjects generated from the initial discussion.

The approach teaches umpires the important skill of self-assessment, which is not only useful from game to game, but helps them to make consistent decisions for the duration of a match. Running their own sessions can also help umpires react to feedback more positively.

"We try to give these guys feedback, or any umpire feedback sometimes they're already withdrawn before you start," Moore says.

"[Generating discussion] draws out the older age groups. They will then participate more openly as well because they can see that they've really got nothing to be frightened of [with] these kids."

Moore says Gen Ys are suited to umpiring because their 'no worries' attitude gives them the sense of perspective needed to survive in the harsh world of officiating.

"I have the attitude I guess not unlike Generation Y to me, it's not a life and death situation," he says.

"We're talking about a game. I've been actively involved in Australian football for 47 years. It's still a game. At the end of the day if I wake up tomorrow, then it's another day."

Moore believes embracing the culture and technology of new generations is inevitable if there is to be a future in umpiring.

"That doesn't hurt any of us, because if we don't then we're going to be sunk in the future because in the future we have to rely upon these people to take over our roles, our positions, and go further," he says.

"If we're not prepared to do that, there's no future."

This article was originally written by Chelsea Roffey for afl.com.au

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