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Eleni Glouftsis can be a 'trailblazer', says AFL umpires boss

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Eleni Glouftsis umpiring the Essendon intraclub match earlier this month - ${keywords}
Eleni Glouftsis umpiring the Essendon intraclub match earlier this month

ELENI Glouftsis can be a "trailblazer" for women entering the AFL fraternity, according to umpires boss Wayne Campbell.

Glouftsis will officiate in her first AFL-level match on Sunday when she umpires Sunday's NAB Challenge clash between Carlton and Essendon at Ikon Park.

In doing so she will become the first female to adjudicate an official AFL match, and Campbell said if she continued to progress up the umpiring ranks she could be a role model for other girls coming through. 

"We think umpiring is in a really good spot around Australia - our numbers are up by 15 per cent on last year," Campbell said on Tuesday.

"We still only have 8 per cent of that number as females, but we go to lots of community groups and there's lot of females getting involved.

"We need a trailblazer, and we'd love El to be that. We'd love her to umpire one AFL game [and] we'd love her to umpire 100 AFL games. That will depend on how she goes.

"We might be a bit biased, but in terms of gender equality or females having an impact on footy, to have a girl in the middle of the MCG or Adelaide Oval bouncing the ball, we think would be a pretty good look."

The South Australian moved to Melbourne at the end of 2014 to take up a three-year AFL Female Pathway scholarship, and last week umpired Essendon's intra-club at Tullamarine.

Glouftsis, a physical education teacher at Melbourne's St Bernards College, said she didn't expect to be treated any differently to her male counterparts from fans or players.

"I like to be treated like any other umpire, so [the attention] is a bit overwhelming at times but it's fantastic to have a really positive outlook on umpiring," Glouftsis said.

Glouftsis started umpiring in 2008 and the 23-year-old's development has been fast-tracked through specialised coaching with the AFL. She has umpired the SANFL's reserves Grand Final in 2013-14.

She is not on the senior umpiring list for this season but as a rookie can fill in if an injury occurs to one of the regular officials, and has her sights on an AFL debut in coming years.

"This year being a rookie will be a fantastic step, like being involved on gameday and talking to the umpires and seeing what they do on the field will be such a fantastic experience," Glouftsis said.

"If I can keep progressing and see how I go in the next few years I'll be happy with that."