League on the look out for female umpires

Melissa Sambrooks (AFL Photos)

The Western Region Football League is on the hunt for umpires particularly for its women and girl’s football programs.

Across January and February the league’s umpiring department is running an academy exclusively for females who may be interested in working for the league throughout the 2024 season.

The program is set to be led by the AFLW Umpiring Rising Star award 2023 recipient, boundary umpire Melissa Sambrooks who will share her experiences officiating football.

The academy will take place across three sessions, starting on the 24th of January at Saltwater Reserve in Point Cook from 11am to 2.30pm.

WRFL director of umpiring Steve Keating said the first session will include a lunch followed by a series of presentations led by Sambrooks, to start the education and see if it’s something those in attendance are interested in.

“The first one won’t differ much to what a normal coaching session might look like,” he said.

“But for us it will be more about finding out exactly what the girls would want and like and then to see if we would be able to deliver that to them.

“The desired outcome is around growth in women’s and girl’s football so we can try to make women’s and girl’s football self-sustaining in relation to officiating.”

All who attend the sessions over the summer could possibly be umpiring an official WRFL match in round 1 of the 2024 season.

“We’ll help them get prepared and confident and offer them some mentorship to start out with,” Keting said.

“It’s essentially important that we can sustain our officiating numbers but also grow them.

Otherwise, it’s left up to the reluctant parents to officiate games, it’s better to have an enthusiastic, trained person to officiate the games, rather than a reluctant parent who gets given a whistle on the day and doesn’t actually know what laws are required at the different age groups.

“This is designed to overcome that and make umpiring sustainable now and into the future.

“Within our program we will also be looking to provide pathways through to VFLW and AFLW as well, so there will be an opportunity there.”

While registrations are not vital, Keating said they are recommended as he would like to see 100 names on the list prior to the session. For more information or if you would like to register head to the Western Region FL Facebook page.