Queensland’s Golden Girl

IT SEEMS as though Nick Riewoldt isn't Queensland’s only blonde bombshell to burst onto the football scene. Brisbane’s young Emily Wastle just 15, is quickly making a name for herself in Queensland’s football circles, both with the ball and with the whistle.

Wastle, who began umpiring in 2007 aged 13, is an advocate of the AFL Umpire Green Shirt Program. Wastle, who wore a light green shirt as part of the mentor program for her initial year of field umpiring in the AFL Brisbane Juniors, was particularly glowing in her appraisal of the green shirt policy. “The green shirt lets coaches, players and supporters know your just learning which means you get a great deal of support,” said Wastle. Wastle’s outstanding first year with the whistle was rewarded with her leagues coaches’ award.

The ambitious Wastle has since umpired the 2008 Queensland school boys’ state carnival and has been selected in the 2009 Next Gen Field Umpire Development Squad Program. The squad forms part of the AFL’s structure pathway for umpires with identified potential. This year’s squad members will be exposed to further high performance training and development.

In 2009, Wastle expects to umpire the AFL Brisbane Juniors under 16 boys, a task of which most young girls aged 15 would find far too daunting, but not Wastle. “The players know that I’m in control and I know that I’m in control, I’m not intimidated at all.”

Apart from swiftly progressing along the AFL’s umpiring pathway, Wastle has rapidly turned heads as a player. The skillful midfielder began her career in 2006 with Yeronga JAFC, steering the team to the AFL Brisbane Juniors under 13’s grand final. Despite the Yeronga Devils one goal loss to rival Kedron, Wastle was rewarded with both her league and club best and fairest awards.

In 2007, Wastle continued the stunning start to her playing career with a second club best and fairest. Her outstanding efforts were rewarded with selection in the under 16’s Youth Girls South East Queensland Flames team. Wastle was the Flames youngest member, aged just 14.

In her third season, Wastle lead Yeronga to grand final glory against Kedron, avenging their heartbreaking 2006 loss. Wastle starred with 4 goals, receiving the club’s ‘Best Final Series Player Award’. For the second consecutive year Wastle was selected in the under 16’s Youth Girls South East Queensland Flames team, this time as Flames Vice Captain. Wastle played a crucial role in the Flames memorable Grand Final win against competition entrant Papa New Guinea. If mixing her club commitments with state representation and umpiring wasn’t enough, Wastle began her senior career with Western Magpies in 2008 at the ripe old age of 15.

Wastle’s love for all facets of the game is undeniable, intending to continuing playing and umpiring for “as long as I possibly can.”

When questioned on her umpiring ambitions, Wastle was emphatic. “I would love to be the AFL’s first female field umpire.” The concept of a female field umpire at the country’s highest level was not so long ago inconceivable, yet today, with a rare blend of talent and determination, Wastle might just arrive on the biggest stage sooner rather than later.

 

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