AFL UMPIRES will celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Australian Football and the country with their own Indigenous Guernsey design across Rounds 10 and 11.
Supported by Chemist Warehouse, all AFL Umpires will wear the newly designed uniform, created by umpire and proud Noongar Wardandi Boodja first nations man, Joshua James, for the next two years across Sir Doug Nicholls round and AFLW Indigenous Round.
James is a Noongar man from the South West of Western Australia. He has been involved heavily in umpiring for more than 20 years. During this time, his umpiring achievements include over 370 senior matches and nine senior Grand Finals.
Starting his umpiring career in 2003 at the age of 13 at the Southwest Football League in Bunbury, Western Australia, he decided to give it a go after seeing an article in the local newspaper.
James went on to umpire Senior State football in the NEAFL and is currently on the VFL list with aspirations to make AFL in the coming years. Achieving this goal would see him become the second Aboriginal person to umpire AFL football after the 2023 Sir Doug Nicholls Round Honouree, Uncle Glenn James OAM, achieved this in the 1980s.
James said he was incredibly proud to see his design come to life in the AFL umpires guernsey.
"Since my start to umpiring in 2003, I've strived to educate and support my umpiring community as much as possible. This design represents connection, resilience and hope for the future and I’m so proud to see it represented across Sir Doug Nicholls Round," he said.
AFL General Manager of Umpiring, Lisa Lawry said she was thrilled to see Joshua's artwork on this year's umpire uniform.
"We hope that Joshua's artwork unites and connects people over the next two years and that it inspires more indigenous people to take up umpiring," Lawry said.
"Josh, alongside the AFL, is committed to increasing Indigenous participation in umpiring and to see more Indigenous people involved in umpiring, coaching and achieve a higher representation of first nations people at state league level, AFLW and the AFL."
Ground signage at AFL matches during Rounds 10 and 11 will feature the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag in each of the goal squares, a symbol for meeting place in the centre circle, the Aboriginal symbol for man in each of the 50m arcs, while the name of the Traditional Owners of each ground will appear below the centre circle.