To celebrate National Volunteer week, AFL New Zealand will highlight a couple of key volunteers within the community who give up their time to help the game grow in Aotearoa.
Tim Stevens is New Zealand’s most qualified umpire and has been involved in a volunteer role within the AFL community for the past 12 years.
He has umpired in every ANZAC game between New Zealand and the AFL Academy since 2012 and recently travelled to Melbourne to umpire the game between the NZ Falcons vs the AFL Academy at Marvel Stadium in April.
What was your background playing AFL in New Zealand?
I started playing at 19 between soccer and cricket seasons and fell in love with the game straight away.
I was lucky enough to represent the New Zealand Falcons in 1999,2002,2005 and 2006.
The obvious highlight for me was winning the AFL International Cup on the MCG in 2005 but I’ve played with some fantastic players at Club, Representative and International level and the mates you make as players last a lifetime.
How was the transition from playing to then volunteer umpiring?
It was much smoother than I expected. I really didn’t know if I’d enjoy it at first but it gave me a chance to stay fit, stay in touch with the guys and give something back to the sport which had given me so much.
What is the drive and motivation to want to continue volunteer umpiring?
I love AFL. I love every level and every part of the game. I love seeing young kids fall in love with the game. I love seeing our best young talent test themselves in Australia and I love witnessing the pride players have in wearing the NZ Falcons guernsey.
What have been some of the highlights in your umpiring career?
Umpiring the New Zealand games have been the highlight for me.
I’ve been lucky enough to Umpire on Westpac Stadium in Wellington and was given the opportunity in April this year to officiate the NZ Falcons and AFL Academy game on Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
I wasn’t lucky enough to have my two boys see me play but it was pretty special having them come and watch me umpire this year.
How has AFL New Zealand assisted you in the role?
AFL New Zealand have given me all my footy opportunities.
They create opportunities at every level including resources, training and development .
Over the last 25 years the level of professionalism and the dedication of the staff at AFL New Zealand continues to get better and better.
What do you want to achieve in umpiring?
Having had the opportunity to umpire with VFL (Victorian Football League) level umpires I now know there isn’t such a big gap so I would like to officiate at that level one day.
I’d love to keep improving my fitness level and try to mirror the development program for VFL umpires and eventually bring that experience back and develop emerging umpires in NZ.
National Volunteer Week celebrates the collective contribution of the 1.2 million volunteers who enrich Aotearoa New Zealand.
Fore more information, head to www.nationalvolunteerweek.nz