Moneycorp Presents: Umpire Spotlight – Tobias Siegel
Each month, AFL Europe will showcase an umpire contributing to the game of Australian Football around the continent. Many thanks to Moneycorp for their continued support of AFL in Europe and this Umpire Spotlight segment.
Will Taylor – AFL Europe
After seeing Australian Football for the first time in February 2009, Tobias Siegel has loved the chance to stay involved in the sport across Europe.
Like many umpires in Europe, Tobias got into the business through playing the sport before officiating.
It was his love for Carlton that made the German so intrigued by Australia’s national sport.
“My first live game was Carlton vs. Brisbane at the Etihad in April 2009 and that was when I really understood the game and started loving it.”
“Since that day Carlton became my number one team and I now have an overseas membership.”
Despite not initially being involved with AFLG, Tobias found his place back in the sport while studying in Dresden in 2012. It was here that he joined the Dresden Wolves and in April 2013, he kicked his first goal in his first match in Prague.
A serious foot injury during the match however left Tobias in a world of pain and unable to play the sport he loved, and was an injury he never could fully recover from.
With his playing days over, 2 years later, Tobias decided to enquire about umpiring the sport in Germany.
“I umpired my first match ever in March 2016, a friendly match between the Berlin Crocodiles and Dresden Wolves before season kick off.”
“My first game in the AFLG was in April 2016 in Freiberg where I umpired 4 games that day in extreme rainy and muddy conditions.”
Needing to teach himself the rules of the code, Tobias made sure he put lots of effort into his new role.
It was his work ethic off the field that Tobias knew was important to him having success as an AFL Europe umpire.
“Most of the umps in the AFLG are Aussies who umpire when asked or injured, so for them, it’s quite natural as they often grew up with the sport.”
“My perspective here was different, especially when it comes to something essential like holding the ball where you need a good feeling and experience, just knowing the rulebook isn’t enough here”
“I tried to do as many games as possible in the AFLG in my first season and I got better with each and every game,”
“After the season in Germany, I decided to go to the AFL Europe Championship in London in August 2016 and that was probably what really gave my career another boost.”
“Meeting fellow umps from Europe and living together with them for a week, being coached by Adam Davies from Australia and doing 18-a-side matches as a boundary, goal and field umpire really opened up my perspective and gave me a much deeper understanding of the game.”
Since the 2016 Championship in London, Tobias has had the chance to umpire at multiple AFL Europe competitions.
In 2017, Tobias umpired his first AFL Europe Champions League and his first AFL Europe ANZAC Cup, but it is the latter of the two that still holds such significance to Tobias today.
“Without any doubt the greatest honour so far was being chosen for the ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux in April and spending days there with the French and Aussie players. I’m still very thankful for have been giving that opportunity, especially as a German.”
Despite the amazing times Tobias has had as an umpire, he concedes that he has also had his some serious challenges in this role.
Now a veteran umpire in the continent, Tobias has had plenty of time to reflect upon his past experiences in the green shirt.
“I think in the beginning confidence was the hardest challenge, especially when you have Aussies thinking they know it all better.”
“Whats also hard is that you sometimes immediately know after you’ve blown the whistle, that you maybe made a mistake.”
“To not let mistakes go into your head and influence other decisions is important and I think its natural for people when they think they made a mistake to give benefit to the others.”
“But thats exactly what you shouldn’t do as an umpire.”
But despite these certain hardships, Tobias is very happy with his decision to stick with umpiring.
“I mostly enjoy the community as there are not that many people here who even know the sport, everyone in the community is very keen to bring this game forward.”
“It is the hanging around after the games and the love for the sport which holds the community together and I’ve made some good friends in Germany and Europe over time.”
Looking forward to the rest of 2018 and beyond, Tobias is showing no signs of giving up umpiring just yet.
After completing his second Champions League in April, Tobias now has his mind set on the 2018 Euro Cup while continuing to umpire in Dresden for AFLG.
And while he remains highly active throughout the AFL Europe community, Tobias is now eager to encourage more individuals across Europe to get involved as an umpire for one of the continent’s more unique sports.
“At first I’d like to encourage more umpires from Germany to take more part in European events.”
“They are always so well organised and loads of fun and therefore kind of a pity that its just Nills and I who do these events.”
“It’s important for umpires to feel appreciated and here for the local leagues and I just want to say thank you to everyone in the AFL Europe community for always organising such great events and for always thinking about umpires and their well being as well. ”
Do you know an umpire with an outstanding story in Australian Football? Get in touch via our AFL Europe Facebook page or via email to Will.Taylor@afleurope.org.