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Get in the GAME

Think Local

We want girls to become AFL umpires, regardless of if they play the sport or not," Dylan Moore, the umpire development coordinator of Sydney Juniors, tells North Shore Living.

"Sometimes their brothers play and they want to be a part of the action, or they have a very AFL-loving family."

As of today, there are 60 female umpires in the Sydney Juniors alone, which is a dramatic 82 per cent increase in numbers since last year.

To become an umpire, there is an online course to complete, and free umpire training every Monday night for an hour.

And don't worry - you are mentored by an experienced umpire in your first few games.

Apart from the social side of umpiring, Dylan says it's a great workout.

"Umpires usually run about 1km across the hour. It could be even a few more kms than that for an under 17s game and upwards."

Middle Cove local Blaise Miller Hill has refereed AFL for three years.

She does play the sport - in the Willoughby-Mosman Swans under 18 team - yet believes any girl can be a ref.

"It's good money (I earn $20 a game and it can go up to $65), good fun and great exercise," the 17-year-old sums up.

"In my first few games I was really nervous. But then my confidence grew and I learnt to be okay with the fact that I am only human and I don't have a million eyes. I have started to back myself and my decisions a lot more, on and off the field. The more you umpire, the more confidence you gain."

At present 18 per cent in the state - and shockingly, only 10 per cent nationally - of rugby league referees are females.

North Shore local Summer Enasio wants to change that.

She absolutely loves refereeing rugby league, and is pushing for local women to become involved.

The 13-year-old is in her first year of refereeing and is finding it "really fun and so enjoyable".

"I've learnt to make quick decisions on the spot. And I'm earning $25 a game, so that's good pocket money. I don't know what I'm saving for, but that doesn't matter," she adds.

After a half-hour online course then a face-to-face course where you "talk to the main refs and answer a few questions," Summer was ready to ref.

Umpiring nearly every Saturday,  Summer says she also loves the exercise. 
"Plus, I get to meet a lot of people - the coaches and other refs are especially really nice, and they are very supportive of your decisions."

At present, there are two registered female umpires on the North Shore and Northern Beaches, and 33 males.

Having umpired men's grade cricket In Sydney for the past 10 years - yet never played the sport! - Cricket NSW's female umpire engagement coordinator Claire Polosak knows the joys of being involved in umpiring.

"I've never played, but I've always followed it. When I was younger, when most girls had Backstreet Boys posters on their wall, I had the Australian male cricket team..." Claire smiles.

The 28-year-old is keen to promote the free Cricket Australia community officiating course.

“It comprises of a one-hour online course, and a three-hour face-to-face workshop that covers cricket law, umpiring and communication techniques and field craft,” she explains.

“Anyone can complete the course. At present, a 13-year-old and a 57-year-old woman are doing it,” Claire explains.

"I enjoy the people I meet through umpiring - the coaches, players and my fellow umpires - it's a fantastic community," Claire adds.

In regards to commitment, Claire says it's usually a couple of hours on a Saturday, and a bit longer for senior teams.

However, if you do take on the seniors session, umpires can earn up to $130 a day.

"Mothers have their kids play cricket and I think they should get involved in umpiring. There is no reason a mother can't umpire while the dad does the scoring," Claire says.

Cremorne resident Michelle Evans has started umpiring on the North Shore.

A member of the Mosman Cricket Club, Michelle says she plays on a social basis. She urges women who have partners playing cricket to learn to umpire.

"You don't want to be a cricket widow - he's at cricket while you're stuck at home!" she says, laughing.


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