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Get in the GAME

Think Local

At present, there are two registered female umpires on the Northern Beaches and North Shore, 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 Potosak knows the joys of being involved in umpiring.

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

Claire 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, communication techniques and field craft," the 28-year-old explains. "Anyone can complete the course. At present, a 13-year-old and a 57-year-old woman are doing it.

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

In regards to commitment, Claire says it's usually a couple of hours on a Saturday, and a bit longer if umpiring senior teams. However, if you do take on a senior session, umpires can earn up to $130 a day.

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 Peninsula Living.

"Sometimes their brother plays 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."

Pittwater Junior AFL member April Cozens is in her first year of umpiring, and her first job.

"I like it as I'm learning the rules better so it helps when I play. It's my first job and I'm earning between $20 and $25 each game, so I think that's good money too," the 13-year-old Church Point local says.

April believes umpiring has built up her confidence and leadership skills as "you have to make split decisions on the spot and stick with them."

There are only three girls refereeing rugby league on the Northern Beaches, and one - Hanna Clare - very much wants to change that.

"I remember I was watching the Belrose Eagles rugby team play last year and I saw a female ref and thought I'd really like to do that" the 13-year-old says.

"I love the game and I've always wanted to participate in some way, and give back to the game that's given my family and I so much enjoyment. I believe other girls think like this, so they should get involved. I look forward to every game I referee," the 13-year-old says.

"Just because many females don't want to actually play rugby, I think it would be great to make the sport not as male dominated. The more girls that are out on the field refereeing, the easier it will be to break down this norm."

Hanna likes refereeing league as she loves keeping fit, meeting new people in the community, and there is a solid support system between the refs.

"We always meet before or after the games and catch up and give constructive criticism, and talk about how we can improve," she explains.

The peninsula local says the training involved to umpire "isn't challenging", being a three-hour online course ranging from the way to deal with people and learning the rule books. There's also a social event each Tuesday afternoon with all the refs.

"I've tearnt to deal with people and now I feel I can really read anyone - I can see when they are getting frustrated and then I can act appropriately - not just in rugby, but in everyday life," Hanna says.

"Plus, it's good pay - usually $25 an hour! I wouldn't be getting that working at McDonalds," she smiles.


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