AFLW umpiring to be boosted by the best in the business

AFL-LISTED umpires will take charge during matches in the NAB AFLW season for the first time in 2020.

The move comes as a direct response from the protracted negotiations around the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, where umpiring was raised by players.

Matches have previously been officiated by members of an AFLW panel, seven of whom have since gone on to umpire AFL games.

The AFLW has been a bonus breeding ground for umpires. Picture: AFL Photos

The new move will see a mix of AFL and AFLW umpires look after AFLW matches, with all 14 teams having had the opportunity to work with an AFL umpire by the end of round three.

The AFL umpires will be weighted to rounds one and two and seven and eight, with six to take part in the three-week finals series, although the overlap between the AFLW competition, the Marsh Community Series and the AFL premiership season will stretch resources.

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In total, half the AFLW matches will involve an AFL umpire, with a focus on mentoring and developing the existing AFLW umpires.

"After we met with a number of players last year and listening to their feedback on the league and the game, it was clear their desire to involve AFL listed field umpires into their AFLW matches," AFL general manager of footy operations Steve Hocking said.

"I am really happy we have been able to make this happen for season 2020, which will not only have a positive impact on the matches, but also the development of the AFLW field umpire group while enhancing the officiating across the competition.

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"The AFL Umpires Association were really supportive in providing more opportunity for growth across the AFL and AFLW umpires.

"We learned a lot in the discussions with the AFLW delegates and the decision to use AFL umpires was a direct outcome of those constructive conversations.

"We are really excited about this season with four new teams and over 120 new players, and [we're] looking forward to a huge night with Richmond and Carlton opening the season at Ikon Park."

Relationships between players and umpires in the AFLW have always been good. Picture: AFL Photos

One umpire looking forward to taking charge of an AFLW game is Eleni Glouftsis, who became the first woman to field umpire an AFL match back in 2017.

"It's obviously a competition that's grown significantly in the past few years, and we're really happy that as an AFL field umpire group we can help umpire this year," Glouftsis told

"I loved playing footy growing up, and there just wasn't opportunities to play at that time. I took up an umpiring path and I wouldn't go back now, but to see the AFLW up and running and the success of the last few years is just fantastic.

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"We only have 34 AFL-listed field umpires in Australia and we have to fill 27 spots a week in the AFL men's rounds, so that can be tricky to fill with injuries and things.

"We want to really help build that pool of umpires, so when the AFLW expands, we can help accommodate that with the best umpires possible."

Including the AFLW in their schedules means an earlier start than normal for AFL umpires, but the February heat doesn't faze Glouftsis.

"We start with club visits in December, so the weather is definitely hot, but I'm really excited to get into matches. I can't wait."

Seasoned AFL umpires Simon Meredith (a five-time Grand Final whistleblower) and 'Razor' Ray Chamberlain are also confirmed starters for the 2020 home and away season.