With some 10 years of umpiring experience behind her, this weekend Eleni Glouftsis will make her debut as the AFL’s first ever female field umpire in more than a century of football.
Showing impressive form in the VFL, she received the news on Monday that she had earned a spot as one of three field umpires at the Essendon-West Coast game at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
“She’s umpired in the VFL all this year and she’s going really well. We’re pleased with her progress,” AFL umpires’ boss Peter Schwab told the Herald Sun earlier this month.
“El’s biggest improvement has been coverage of ground, which helps her get into better positions.
“Not that bouncing is high on the agenda, but she bounces the ball pretty well.
“She’s just improved again, which is great.”
Now aged 25, the South Australian has been umpiring since she was 16 and has officiated 33 VFL matches over the past two seasons.
This Sunday is not the first time that she will have made history. In 2013 she became the first female to umpire a South Australian National Football League match soon after being awarded an AFL pathway scholarship, and in 2016 took charge of the Carlton-Essendon pre-season game – the first woman to do so at an AFL match of any level.
In an interview on Tuesday, Glouftsis told ABC radio’s Jon Faine that she’s ready and prepped for the opposition she may face from spectators as umpire.
“It’s not always the best liked role in the AFL,” she said.
“The spectators are going to disagree regardless. You just have to remember that nothing is really personal.”
Essendon will take on West Coast at Etihad Stadium on Sunday 21 May at 1.10 pm AEST.