Umpire Exchange Shows the Way

THREE Geelong umpires are showing the way for aspiring young females by officiating in this Saturday's curtain-raiser to the Port Adelaide versus Melbourne match at AAMI Stadium.

Field umpire Jacqui Ginn, aged 21, and boundary umpires Kaitlyn Marriner and Erin Keating, both 17, will represent the Geelong Football Umpires' League as part of an all-female panel appointed to the Girls' Secondary College Grand Final.

The girls will visit Adelaide from Thursday to Sunday as part of a reciprocal arrangement with SANFL umpires, five of whom officiated at Geelong's Queens Park in June. Every field, boundary and goal umpire appointed to matches between Geelong Amateurs and Portarlington seniors, reserves, under-18s and under-14s was female.

SANFL umpiring development manager Don Cooper said the all-female panel enabled promotion of the concept that umpiring is open to everyone, regardless of gender.

"For a long time it was the perception that football is a game for the boys, and girls loved it, but how could they get involved?" Cooper said.

"Umpiring certainly, I think is opening the eyes of girls to the opportunities to be involved. Several leagues are showing great results with having girls in their panels now, where they never did, and those that did have are starting to extend that capacity of numbers being involved."

The girls will be in Adelaide from Thursday to Sunday, training with the SANFL Academy umpires and conducting an umpiring clinic at Marymount College prior to Saturday's match.

Cooper said taking part in development programs enabled the girls to demonstrate their abilities and the levels they had attained in a male-dominated field, showing the way for future participants.

"At weekends like this it's a chance for them to step up onto the big stage and say, 'Hey, look what we can do, and also look what you can do'," he said.

Umpiring a curtain-raiser to an AFL match provided an opportunity to prove themselves in front of a large crowd.

"We're starting to get that sort of reaction now, where people are used to seeing girls out there a bit more," Cooper said

This article was originally written by Chelsea Roffey for afl.com.au 

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