WHEN former Helena College student Sally Boud graduated in 2007, she was asked what she wanted to do after school.
Her answer was: “I hope to make it to AFL for umpiring and live my life to the full”.
Last weekend the 25-year-old from Darlington saw her dream come true when she made her AFL league debut as goal umpire in Fremantle’s loss to Greater Western Sydney at Subiaco Oval on Saturday.
The AFL Umpires department signed Boud up after nine years of consistent umpiring form. She joined two other women in the squad of umpires: Chelsea Roffey and Rose O’Dea.
“When I started umpiring, I wanted to achieve the highest level I could and about a year ago I had the realisation that it was possible to make the AFL,” Boud said.
“I tried all the disciplines but I knew if I wanted to go anywhere in the game, goal umpiring was the best option to go the furthest. I’ve put the hard yards in.”
Boud said she was inspired to take up boundary umpiring by Helena College maths teacher Warren Beckwith.
Mr Beckwith, who is always spoken of in glowing terms by former students, supervised a mentoring program at the school to encourage and support students interested in football umpiring.
He never seemed to let gender make a difference.
Boud remembers him well.
“He got my friend and I into it,” she said.
As the AFL prepares to open up to women’s teams, the groundwork is being laid at schools to develop the depth and range of talent needed. Helena College has been a leading school in Perth encouraging women into the AFL.
Like Mr Beckwith, Helena College sports teacher Joe Kendall is passionate about football for all students.
In 2015, Mr Kendall was given the AFL School Ambassador of the Year award for Outstanding Female AFL Program for his work coaching young women in football.
He said he attributed women’s success in the sport to girls being well suited to the game: “fast, agile, quick thinking”.
“I was getting lots of female teachers, female parents and lots of girls involved and so it started from there,” he said.
“They liked that idea and then promoted girls’ football at the carnivals we’ve had the past few years.
“I think they just like my enthusiasm I suppose, because girls’ footy, boys’ footy, it’s all the same to me; as long as they are having fun, that’s the main thing.”
Mr Kendall has a three-year-old daughter and would like her to have the option to be a full participant in AFL.
Helena College also has four female students who are hoping to make inroads into the Swan Districts Football Club in the AFL Youth Girls WA competition. Mr Kendall believes all of them have the capability to play AFL at a national level in the future.
In Year 10, Mikayla Bowen recently won best on field for her first AFL game for Swan Districts and the same award the following week.
From Year 9, twins Mikayla and Brianna Hyde are hoping to be named in the State’s Under-15s team when it is announced later this month.
And Lucy Richardson-Cooke has impressed her coaches with her defensive capabilities.