While central Victorian football teams have been busily preparing during pre-season, the umpires have been dusting off the flags - ready to take to the ground.
Whether they're along the boundary, in the goal square or out on the field - they all take great pride in their roles.
Their goal is to ensure they provide the best possible umpire services to all of the leagues under the AFL Central Victoria banner.
The Bendigo Umpires Association - one of the oldest groups of its kind in the state - has been adjudicating games across central Victoria since 1931.
"The game can't be played efficiently without the role of the umpires, " BUA general manager Sharon McColl said.
"For umpires to do their jobs it requires a great deal of knowledge of football - a sport which has some of the most complicated rules in the world.
"And umpires don't always get it right, and when they don't - the crowd will certainly let them know," McColl laughed.
The association adjudicates the Bendigo Football Netball League, North Central Football League, Loddon Valley Football Netball League, Bendigo Junior Football League and the Central Victoria Women's League.
In 2019 multiple new rules will come into the competition and as a result umpires have been liaising with clubs to ensure they are all up to scratch before the first bounce for round one.
"We have been going out to various clubs to speak with the teams to go through the new rules," McColl said.
"It's important to make sure everyone is across the changes."
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However, one of the biggest changes for the 2019 season is the blending of the BUA with the Rochester Echuca Football Umpires Association.
In the past REFUA umpires were solely focused on the HDFNL, but this year they will have the opportunity to be involved with the other leagues in central Victoria.
Another change McColl is proud of during her four years as general manager of the BUA is the increase of women taking up roles as umpires.
"There are certainly more girls coming through these days and it's the same with football in general," McColl said.
"When I started there was around four in the association, now we have 20."
Mikayla Ford, 16 has been involved for four years, following in the footsteps of her father Wayne, who has been an umpire for more than a decade.
"I've never played football I just love to umpire," Ford said.
"I enjoy it because you get to know plenty of great people."
Ford is a goal umpire - one of the youngest in the association - and loves every minute while she is out on the field.
"You get to umpire some really good games which is very enjoyable," Ford said.
"The highest level game I have umpired so far is a BFNL senior's match - it was a great experience and very fast paced."
BUA board member Bayne Floyd said it didn't matter what type of role each umpire played, each presented its own challenges.
"Whether they're a field, goal or boundary umpire, it's always going to be a full-on game that will keep them on their toes," Floyd said.
"Boundary umpires have the hard task of keeping up with what's happening across the ground, running up and down the boundary line all game.
"Field umpires need to keep up with the pace of play, anticipate where the ball will land and position themselves accordingly.
"And with goal umpires - if the ball is up the other end, they may get a minute's break.
"But they need to focus on the play and stay under the flight of the ball to ensure they make the correct decision, because in the end all that matters is the final score."
Simon Hay was introduced to umpiring seven years ago by a group of close friends and hasn't looked back since.
"I came along to one of the training sessions, had a look and fell in love with it," Hay said.
"Since I've become an umpire I have gained plenty of life skills that have helped me grow as an individual."
"We also play such an important role during each game, without umpires we simply don't have a game."
In addition to the fulfillment Hay receives through his duties as an umpire, what the association does off the field is just as important to him and all of the other members.
"At the end of the day, we're one big happy family," Hay said.
But what brings McColl the most joy of all is watching children who may be deterred to play, but are keen to be umpires.
"There are plenty of children out there that absolutely love everything about football, but they're not into the rough-and-tough elements of the sport," McColl said.
"Umpiring is the perfect sport for them because they still play a very important part within football."
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