ONE of the district's major football umpiring groups will link up with officials in Bendigo in the wake of changes to umpiring arrangements in the Central Murray and Golden Rivers competitions.
The Northern District Football Umpires Association announced yesterday its Kerang headquarters will become the third training base for the Bendigo Umpires Association, with a number of its officials to join one of the region's largest umpiring groups.
The NDFUA – which had been supplying umpires to the Golden Rivers Football League for the past 20 years – were left without a competition to officiate in after the GRFL chose to support the formation of the AFL Central Rivers Umpires, which will cover both the Central Murray Football Netball League and GRFL.
Talks between the BUA and NDFUA began in December after the local group rejected the recommendations outlined in AFL Central Murray's review into umpiring, specifically the formation of the new umpiring body.
"Following the completion of AFL Central Murray's Review into Umpiring and the formation of the new umpiring group, our members wanted the association to look at a way to preserve its history and remain as a group," NDFUA president, Brent Howden said.
The relationship will enable local umpires to join the BUA and be in line for appointments in the Bendigo, Loddon Valley and North Central competitions, with the NDFUA's base at the Kerang Lawn Tennis Club to become the BUA's third training location.
"Umpires based in Kerang and Swan Hill will now have the chance to umpire in some of northern Victoria's top leagues and aim to officiate in one of Victoria's major football competitions," Howden said.
The agreement will also allow the 54-year-old organisation – which has officiated previously in the Northern District, Northern and Echuca, Kerang District, Mid-Murray, CMFNL and GRFL competitions - to retain its history, with the group's initials to be located on the back of each member's on-field uniform.
"Any umpire who wants to be a part of the game should be afforded the opportunity and we are excited at the prospect of strengthening our numbers with these umpires," BUA chairman, Craig Findlay said.
"Over past seasons the Bendigo Umpires Association has had umpires from the North Central Umpiring Group and the Loddon Valley Umpiring Group join us and the NDFUA members will be another extension to this, which we believe strengthens football across our region."