Female footy umpires in WA have their hearts set on AFL

Female footy umpires in WA have their hearts set on AFL

A GROUP of female football umpires and WA’s leading female field umpire believe they could make it to the AFL after watching field umpire Eleni Glouftsis’ debut last week.

Glouftsis became the first female field umpire to officiate an AFL match on May 21 and got the nod to umpire her second game this weekend.

Swan Districts Junior Football Umpires Association (SDJFUA)’s Cassidy Bodenham, Rebecca Coleman, Alexa Coleman and Sarah Williams are the only female umpires in the Beechboro-based district.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Gabby Simmons is the only female on the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) umpires panel.

SDJFUA head umpires coach Andrew Hayes said the number of females have increased but wanted to see more joining the district.

“We have not had many field umpires but we have had AFL goal umpire Sally Boud who started here as a field umpire,” he said.

“We are now riding on the back of the focus on women’s football, AFL Women (AFLW) and Eleni running around last week.”

Simmons, who umpires in WAFL colts, AFLW and under-18s levels, said she felt inspired to move up the WAFL ranks and eventually AFL ranks one day.

“It is pretty exciting that there is that pathway for us now and we are included in the pathway as much as the guys are,” she said.

“There are more girls that are giving field umpiring a go…previously we had plenty of goal umpires around.”

WAFL umpire manager Darryl Sinclair said WAFL’s umpiring talent pathway had the biggest representation of females in any senior league, with 10 umpires.

Sinclair said there had been an increase in female umpires across nine junior districts.

AFL national female football development manager Jan Cooper said Eleni’s achievement showcased the role of umpires, which often did not receive enough recognition.

“Particularly for young girls who aspire to be an umpire, it is extremely impressive that they have now got an actual role model who can inspire them to head into a similar pathway,” she said.

“I just think it goes to show that our code is starting to be far more inclusive than it ever has been.”