Over the weekend, the Senior Women South and Pioneer Football Club match featured an all-female umpire line up for the first time in Central Australian Football League (CAFL) history, demonstrating the continued growth of women’s umpiring participation in the Territory.
In the Northern Territory female umpiring participation makes up 23 percent. This is the highest female umpire participation rate in the country.
This CAFL season, umpiring has grown significantly with a 50 percent increase from last year with a 70 percent retention rate.
AFLNT Umpire Coordinator Sam Cunningham said the future of female umpiring in the Territory is looking bright.
“It is fantastic to see the increase in female participation in the CAFL umpiring group. This has come down to the inviting environment and leadership from our female umpires,” he said.
“Boundary Head Coach Jessie Woolford has been doing an outstanding job for a number of years in creating this environment at only 17 years old.”
Jessie Woolford was one of the seven female umpires who took to the field on Friday evening.
“It was awesome to walk out on the field because the most evident thing was that it felt different – us girls had a lot of fun and during the game we were all super confident.”
She joined Ahnika Lennie and Alyssa Reid on the boundary, Kasey Ashenden and Bronte Stray umpired on the field and Claire Norman (featured in this video) and Alyssa Rosenthal were behind the goals.
Woolford is now into her fifth year of boundary umpiring in Alice Springs, having started in 2017.
“I started out as a boundary umpire after my PE teacher told me to give it a go because I love running so much and I’ve stuck with it ever since,”
“He told me at a great time because the next week they had a ‘come and try’ night which was awesome because everyone was super welcoming and wanted to help me learn the ropes.”
After umpiring for a couple of years, Woolford became an Umpiring Coach in 2019.
“I really enjoy umpire coaching, especially because I love being a role model and training up the new generation of umpires.”
“It is awesome to see so many females joining and enjoying the umpiring community. It is such a great way to meet new people. Even when some games get a bit stressful, you know you have your friends there to make it easier.”