SIX PROMISING female field umpires have been picked for a national academy established to fast-track their development.
The AFL’s National Female Umpiring Academy will serve as a pathway for young female umpires, with the AFL determined to increase the number of women officiating at both AFL and AFLW levels.
Several of the six already have officiated at AFLW or state league levels.
Russell Davidson, who previously ran a female field umpire pathway program, will coach the academy members. Eleni Glouftsis, the first female field umpire at AFL level, will take up an ambassadorial role with the group. Glouftsis made her 2018 debut in Saturday’s Carlton-Essendon match the MCG.
There are around 15,300 umpires in Australian Football competitions across the country, but only 1433 – or 9 per cent – are female.
Grant Williams, the AFL’s head of umpiring, said the key aim of the academy program was to identify females capable of umpiring at the highest levels.
“This program will complement the on-field development of the state umpiring departments by providing additional coaching and mentoring during camps and tutorial sessions over a nine-month period,” he said.
“We hope to develop umpires for both the AFL and the AFLW.”
The recent growth in women’s football at all levels across the country had created a demand for more officials, but particularly umpires.
“We need more umpires to cope with the many more games country and suburban leagues now manage and this is another way women can be involved and excel in the game,” said Nicole Livingstone, the AFL’s head of women’s football.
Livingstone said the academy members were likely to be involved in next year’s AFLW competition.
THE INAUGURAL NATIONAL FEMALE UMPIRING ACADEMY MEMBERS
VFL development umpire; 2018 AFLW rookie umpire
VFL rookie umpire; Eastern Football League umpire
VFL development umpire; AFLW umpire
VFL senior umpire; 2018 AFLW Grand Final umpire
AFL NSW senior umpire; AFLW umpire
WAFL reserves umpire; 2018 AFLW Grand Final emergency umpire