Official website of the Essendon District Football League

End Of An Era As Rowan Sawers Calls Time

By Ian Kyte

THE EDFL community will be disappointed to learn that Umpiring & Development Manager, Rowan Sawers, has called time after seven years as manager and coach of the EDFL umpiring fraternity.

Rowan has decided to retire and spend more of his time with his family.

When Rowan left the AFL as head coach seven seasons ago, the EDFL approached him and we were lucky that he said yes to come and lead umpiring in our competition.

This was a real win for the EDFL as Rowan had for many years been coaching at the elite AFL level, which followed an umpiring career of over 400 games and four VFL/AFL grand finals.

Rowan promptly sought and was granted resources to increase umpire numbers (especially females and young people) and also to continue to improve the quality of umpires and umpiring across all our competitions.

He was able to achieve this and much more during his tenure, with some of his key achievements being:

 - Increased umpire numbers from over 300 to 540 on the list before Season 2020

 - Established six umpiring academies in various suburbs and culturally diverse schools within the EDFL region

 - Visited and spoke to students at many schools sourcing umpires and promoting umpiring

 - Supported the creation of the two-day January New Umpires Clinic, now in its fourth year, with exponential growth and 90 per cent retention of attendees to registered umpires

 - Achieved a target of 30 per cent females across all umpiring disciplines

 - Sought and received funding from a number of sources, including Jim Stynes Foundation, Hume City Council and MVCC

 - Organised a number of AFL guest speakers to visit EDFL umpires (Hayden Kennedy, Ray Chamberlain, Matt Nicholls, Chelsea Roffey and Matt Stevic to name a few)

 - Established a strong and qualified coaching panel for senior and junior umpiring

 - Consolidated the simple EDFL message of ‘Protect the Ball Player’ and ‘Protect the Head’, which infiltrated throughout the umpiring and club ranks

 - Ensured EDFL female umpires attended the VFL/AFL Women’s Academy and created the EDFL Female Umpiring Academy, partnering with Victoria University

 - Facilitated many requests for Umpires for school games, U14/16/18 competitions and championships

 - Ensured Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division football always had three field umpires in their games

 - Promoted and facilitated the transition of junior umpires to Saturday football

These are some of Rowan’s success stories and demonstrated that the EDFL was exemplary in its thinking by creating a full-time umpiring manager role.

When you watch Rowan in action as a leader and coach, his message was simple, positive and always in the best interests of the game.

His principles were based simply on umpires being fit, developing their skills, positioning themselves correctly, protecting the ball player and protecting the head of any player prepared to go and get the ball.

These philosophies and practices have infiltrated throughout all levels of umpiring and has a direct impact on how the game is played and managed in the EDFL.

Rowan leaves a lasting legacy as a selfless and inspirational figure that has taken the standard and depth of umpiring to a level the envy of all other leagues and on behalf of the EDFL Board, management, clubs, coaches, umpires and everyone involved in the EDFL, we say thank you for your valuable contribution, professionalism, leadership and development of umpiring, which we acknowledge as a key component of the success and standing of the EDFL competition.

We wish Rowan and his family good health and all the very best in their next chapter.

Thank You, Rowan.

The EDFL has commenced the process of recruiting a new Umpires Director, which will be advertised shortly.

Rowan has generously offered to assist in this recruitment process.

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