BENDIGO’S Tristan Burgess says there’s nothing easy about umpiring, but it’s a challenge well worth taking up.
Burgess took on the challenge in 2001 with the Bendigo Umpires Association and now 13 years on is into his second season as an AFL central umpire.
The 28-year-old returned to his hometown on Wednesday for the BUA’s “What’s Your Decision Night” where he not only passed on valuable knowledge, but also a dose of inspiration to the current crop of Bendigo umpires that if they continue to work hard at their craft, they too can get to the top.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re from the country or from the city, you can achieve anything you want if you put your heart into it 100 per cent,” Burgess said.
“I had a good time at the BUA and a lot of support from both the association and my parents (Leonie and Brendan), which has got me to where I am today.”
Having started as a boundary umpire in 2001 at under-18 level, Burgess now has 23 AFL games as a central umpire under his belt after he was last year added to the AFL senior umpiring panel.
“I’m going along okay, but there’s areas where I’d like to improve and that’s the art of umpiring... it’s constantly evolving,” said Burgess, whose CV includes central umpiring the 2004 senior BFL grand final between Sandhurst and Gisborne at the QEO as a 19-year-old.
“There’s a broad range of areas to always be working on - fitness, decision-making, match-management skills, communication and teamwork.
“They are the sort of things an umpiring group is always trying to improve on each and every week, whether it’s in the AFL or VFL.
“Everything about umpiring is a challenge... nothing is easy.
“Whether it’s our day-to-day work leading into footy, our recovery, training, travel or the game itself, there’s always a challenge, but it’s all valuable experience.”
Burgess made his official AFL central umpiring debut in round three last year when St Kilda beat the GWS Giants by 72 points in Canberra.
And just like a young player early in his career, Burgess still pinches himself that he’s on the big stage of the AFL and paying free kicks to the likes of Gary Ablett, Chris Judd and Joel Selwood.
“I’m very fortunate to be an AFL umpire. I’m AFL/VFL field umpire No.428, and that’s over nearly 120 years, so you never take it for granted,” said Burgess, who away from his umpiring works for sports company Brooks in customer service.
“I’ll keep on trying to build on what I’ve got and continue for as long as I can.”
Burgess is headed west this weekend to take charge of the Fremantle v Brisbane Lions game on Saturday night.
“The travel is part of our life and being an AFL umpire is a chance to travel all over Australia,” Burgess said.
“We’re not aligned to one state - wherever we’re appointed to go to umpire, that’s where we go.
“The travel is something I enjoy. It’s good to get away from your routine and experience each state.”
Also on the AFL umpiring panel this year from Bendigo is boundary umpire Tim Lougoon, while the umpires boss is also from Bendigo, Wayne Campbell.