Outer East Football Netball celebrated its inaugural ‘Women in Umpiring Day’ over the weekend, a new initiative introduced to recognise the achievements and the contribution of female umpires within the competition, which was well received by those in attendance.
With the event taking place at Chandler Reserve on Saturday afternoon between Emerald and Belgrave, Shannyn Gereg, Veronica Brown and Ella Priestley took part in the reserves match before an all-female umpiring panel officiated the senior men’s later in the afternoon, a first for OEFN.
Acknowledging the occasion by donning pink uniforms, the umpiring panel consisted of Sophie Mastaing and Sam Price in the field, Georgia Priestley, Taylah Priestley and Chloe Siddall on the boundary, while Amelia Gemmill and Sarah Fishley took charge in the goals.
In attendance to recognise this inaugural event was AFL Head of Umpiring Dan Richardson who tossed the coin prior to the start of the match, while Brad McEwan and Dr Mandy Ruddock from Elevate Performance and Wellbeing also attended where they held a Q&A session with umpires and their families after the match.
Reflecting on the significance of the day, Yarra Ranges Umpires Association President Peter Dixon was proud of the women who took part on Saturday as they recognised this event while also acknowledging the role they play with umpiring in Outer East FN.
“The message of the day was about acknowledging the female umpires who make a great contribution to our umpiring program,” he said.
“Umpires are one stakeholder in the wider football industry, so it was important to recognise the importance not only the role that women play in umpiring, but the wider group in general.”
Considering current media in and around umpiring, bringing some of our female umpires together to officiate senior football was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate their involvement in not only our competition, but the football industry in general and they did a fantastic job together which was recognised by members of both Emerald and Belgrave playing groups after the game.
The presentation led by both McEwan and Ruddock after the match was also an engaging session where they brought the women and their families together to speak about topics relating to women in sport and the experience they get out of it.
With 54 new umpires joining so far in 2022, nine of which are females and taking the total number to 16, it provides clear evidence that Outer East FN is a community sporting league that welcomes all people to join, no matter their circumstances.
“We are supportive and replicate the leagues policies in having our arms open for everyone to join YRUA regardless of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, gender, disabilities, mental health and more,” Dixon explained.
“We are a group that invites and embraces everyone to come onboard because we are a club, a team and we look after each other.”
Dixon is appreciative to those from Emerald Football Netball Club for their assistance in putting the event together and providing the hospitality for the special guests in attendance.
“I am grateful to Mark Pedder and his team at Emerald for their help in organising the event,” he said.
“They went to great lengths to ensure we could facilitate an event that could run as smoothly as it did, and we are really appreciative of the work they put in to help us.”