A love of footy and fitness is what first got pioneer umpire Eleni Glouftsis into the role when she spotted an ad in her high school bulletin. Donning a whistle for the North Eastern Metro Junior Football Association was a great way for her to stay in the game especially as at that time it was hard for girls to find a way to keep playing once school was over.
“For me umpiring was a passion of mine from year 9 and I loved umpiring so if football was a possibility, I don’t know whether I’d be umpiring today, I loved football then, I’d love to be playing in the competition!”
As the first female field umpire to officiate an AFL match in the 2016 NAB Challenge game between Carlton and Essendon, Eleni knows first- hand what it means to be a trailblazer in the female football sphere.
“The women’s league will just mean so much to women being involved in all different capacities in AFL and for football in general which is just awesome,” she says.
She says footy is now surrounded by females in a really welcoming, encouraging environment. “You build your fitness, you build friendships, it’s a lifelong hobby which is so fun to be a part of so I would encourage any girls who if they’re not someone who wants to play, umpiring football is a fantastic opportunity”.