AFL International Cup 2014
The 2014 International Cup is only one month away now and about 100 players and coaches are getting more and more excited every day. For some, it is a return to the homeland, and even the home city. For others, it is a return to the birthplace of our beloved sport of Australian Rules Football and a second (or even third) opportunity for glory. And for many, it is the chance of a lifetime, the first time to Australia or even the first time over seas.
For all of those 100 or so and their friends and families, co-workers, and teammates who will be cheering for them here in the states, they are focused on winning matches. But for a few others, the focus is a bit different. We rarely take time out to remember the men and women who make the game possible: the umpires.
The USAFL has led the world in promoting this oft neglected part of the game. In 2002, at the first International Cup, Jeff Persson went as the first USAFL Umpire Scholar and achieved his Field Level 2 Accreditation. He followed in 2005, 2008, and 2011, umpiring Grand Finals in 2005 and 2011. Jon “Millsy” Mills continued the tradition in 2011 as the second USAFL Umpire Scholar, earning his Level 2, and becoming one of only four international umpires to work the Cup.
This year the USAFL and the USAFL Umpires Association are raising the bar yet again, sending no less than five umpires to the tournament, including the next two scholarship recipients, the first ever women’s scholarship and the first goal umpire. While in Australia in attending all the Revlolution and Freedom/Liberty official functions as part of the official USAFL delegation, these umpires will be working International Cup and local games, working on accreditation levels and will also attend the AFL Umpires training session,
It will certainly be a full three weeks. Here is the run down of the delegation:
Umpire Scholarship: Ross McLaren.
Ross is a native of Melbourne, but has been in the USA for a long while. He lives in Dallas with his family and has been umpiring for the Dallas club and at the USAFL Nationals for several years. He is currently Field Level 1 and was one of the two Field Umpires awarded the Division 1 Grand FInal match in 2014. Ross continues to demonstrate superior umpire skills and is also becoming more involved with growing the Umpire Association and other umpires, which is why he was picked for the 2014 Scholarship to represent the USAFL and to earn his Level 2 Accreditation.
Umpire Scholarship: Nicole Fasula.
Nicole has been a part of the Arizona footy scene for many years now, having represented her country as part of the Freedom team that came oh-so-close to the 2011 IC championship in 2011. It was at that tournament that Nicole decided that her next goal would be to return to the Internatioal Cup as the first international female field umpire, and will be the second person ever to have both played and umpired at the International Cup. Her dedication to becoming the best umpire possible during the past three years is why she was selected to represent the USAFL in 2014 and to earn her Field Level 1 Accreditation.
Goal Umpire: Toby Persson.
Toby has been involved with the Nashville footy club since 2000, retiring after 75 games, and becoming a fixture in the goals ever since. He has established himself as the top USAFL goal umpire, now having worked a couple of hundred games including every Divison 1 Grand Final since 2007. Toby is currently a Goal Level 1 umpire and will be seeking Goal Level 2 Addreditation.
Field Umpire: Jon Mills.
Millsy is excited to be returning to Oz after his 2011 IC experience. He is also currently the USAFL Umpire Association President, and you won’t find anyone more dedicated to growing the USAFL through growing its umpires. Although Millsy never played the game, he is a top college soccer referee and that experience is what helped him make the transition to footy. Milly lives in St. Louis and will have his family cheering him on in Melbourne.
Umpire Coach: Jeff Persson.
Jeff is in his 15th season with Nashville, having played 150 games and his 14th season as an umpire and over 300 games. He is heading to Oz for the fifth time with the USAFL delegation: umpire scholarship, umpire, player, and umpire coach. Jeff has been the USAFL Umpire Coach since 2010 and is the first international umpire coach (with Millsy in 2011) and seeks his Umpire Coach Level 1 Accreditation.
Congratulations to the 2014 USAFL Umpire Association representatives and best wishes for a successful 2014 International Cup campaign. PLAY ON!!