Choice cut: Lamb is our Community Umpire of the Year in 2021

Ash Lamb is AFL NSW/ACT’s Volunteer of the Year for Community Umpiring Service in 2021.

He works tirelessly to support around 40 umpires who officiate matches on the Sapphire Coast. Lamb is AFL Sapphire Coast’s umpiring coach, he develops the schedule for umpires, provides matchday coaching for umpires and gets the whistle out on weekends, having done so for more than two decades.

Like many regional leagues, AFL Sapphire Coast is spread over vast distances – it’s more than two hours’ drive from the northernmost club in the competition, Broulee-Moruya, to the southernmost, Eden. Lamb needs to factor this distance in for travelling umpires, many who which also play or parents of players.

It’s a challenging exercise in logistics and relationships, working out the umpires’ appointments on the Sapphire Coast every week. But Lamb is grateful to the raft of committed umpires in the region who “turn up to every training session, want to do multiple games every week and then complain when they only get one game for the week.”

Umpiring is in Lamb’s blood. His father was a VFL umpire in the 1950s who went on to manage the VFL’s reserve-grade side.

But like many, it wasn’t a love of making the hard calls that initially got Lamb into umpiring. Like so many, he officiated his first match to help out one of his children’s teams – he was also playing footy at the time.

“As you age a bit, the body just doesn’t hold up as well,” he said. “I get just as much enjoyment out of umpiring as I did playing, except now the risk of injury is really low. I keep my fitness up and I keep my footy friendship and network too.”

Lamb keeps umpiring to stay close to footy, but he also enjoys the pressure and responsibility it brings. He said:

“As a footballer, you get butterflies in your stomach and it’s that same sort of thing umpiring, knowing that every single thing I do today will impact the game. As umpires, we want to negate that impact, but we also want it to be positive on the game.”

Thank you, Ash Lamb, for your leadership in umpiring in AFL NSW/ACT. The AFL Sapphire Coast is far better off for your involvement. Congratulations on being AFL NSW/ACT’s Volunteer of the Year for Community Umpiring Service.