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First female field umpire to make AFL debut

Callum Twomey and Peter Ryan, AFL Media  May 16, 2017 10:45 AM

Eleni Glouftsis to make senior umpiring debut this week

Eleni Glouftsis to make senior umpiring debut this week

She got there on her merits. She's an excellent umpire who is going to have a long career in our game.

Eleni Glouftsis will become the first female field umpire in AFL history after being named to officiate in Sunday's clash between Essendon and West Coast.

The AFL confirmed on Monday that Glouftsis would take the field for the Etihad Stadium match in an historic moment for the game in a year that has celebrated the role of women in football with the introduction of the AFLW. 

Glouftsis said on Tuesday she hoped to encourage both male and females to be involved in umpiring.

"I'm going to make mistakes. Everyone does. I just hope to do the best I can," she told a media conference.

Glouftsis became the first female field umpire to adjudicate an official AFL match in last year's pre-season competition at Ikon Park between Essendon and Carlton.

She umpired in the JLT Community Series in the 2017 pre-season and has been umpiring in the VFL this season while improving her fitness to ensure she could officiate at AFL level.  

Umpires' coach Hayden Kennedy contacted Glouftsis at work on Monday to tell her she was to make her AFL debut and AFL CEO Gill McLachlan described her elevation as a fine achievement.

"She got there on her merits. She's an excellent umpire who is going to have a long career in our game. She also happens to be the first woman, and it is significant," McLachlan.

"I'm obviously thrilled for her and proud that we are announcing that today."

Glouftsis said it was fantastic such opportunities were available in football for women and she had received great support from umpires which had helped her make the grade.

"The main thing for me was to do the best that I possibly could, and if that meant reaching AFL that is fantastic. I'm really pleased to be in this position," she said.

"When you share a passion for football it doesn't matter what gender you are, you will strive for everyone to do well."

The South Australian umpired in the VFL last season as one of 12 AFL umpire rookies.

She was also named an AFL emergency umpire on 10 occasions and has trained with the senior AFL umpiring group over the past two years, and with 33 VFL games to her name the League believes she is ready for the next level.   

Glouftsis was placed in the AFL Female Pathway scholarship program in 2015 after being identified as the most promising female field umpire at state level in the country.

Gloutfsis said she understood the scrutiny that would come with her elevation to AFL ranks and was prepared for it.

"Every single game I go out to umpire I do the best I can," she said.

"I'm out there to prove that I can do the job and really simply perform my role for the game and do the best I can for the game."

Kennedy said he had no hesitation in selecting Glouftsis for the game based on her form.

"We had to do it. It's a credit to her," Kennedy said.

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