Meet the teenage umpire kicking goals for her community

MUNEERAH Foster may be just 15, but she's rocketing through the goal umpiring ranks.

She only started goal umpiring in 2019, was added to the West Australian development squad in 2020 and made her WAFL Colts debut this year.

Foster and her family are big Fremantle supporters, members of both the AFL and AFLW teams, and while her brothers play, she was never interested in taking to the field herself, instead opting for volleyball.

EVERY CLUB’S LIST Your squad for the 2022 season

Her father spotted an advertisement for a "come and try" umpiring program through the Edmund Rice Centre, a community facility which assists those from a migrant, refugee or Indigenous background.

"Dad said I should give it a shot, because I know about footy," Foster told womens.afl.

"The guy that was running it was happy for me to join (a league) and continue umpiring. I found I didn't enjoy field umpiring, so I moved on to goal umpiring.

"I just enjoy being part of the game. Boundary and field are too much running, but with goal, I just like the short and sharp movements. You're in control at that time of the game." 

Foster enjoys the footy community and says she has never received any "backlash" from beyond the boundary despite the somewhat vulnerable position of goal umpiring, tethered to the goal line.

"I've never finished a game and hated it, or gone away and not wanted to come back next week, I do enjoy it," Foster said.

PLAY FOOTY Find your local club here

"I might have gotten a bit from 12-year-old kids who run around at the back of the goals, but the players have been fine. 

"Of course, they'll say things like, 'come on, that was touched', but they say that to every goal umpire. I've never gotten anything, it's great."

Foster said she has seen a definite increase in the number of young Muslim girls picking up the game in her area.

"I do know a few who wear the hijab and play, so they're great representation. Me being in the community might also help it grow," she said.

I've never finished a game and hated it, or gone away and not wanted to come back next week, I do enjoy it

Muneerah Foster

"I feel like the uniform standards have changed, so everyone's really flexible. I'm easily able to wear long sleeves and pants while I train, when everyone else is in shorts. It's not a big deal anymore."

And the end goal? Umpiring at AFLW level.

"I've got to Colts pretty quickly, I'm only 15 and in year 10. Lately I've been umpiring year 11 and 12s, and even Colts is that age level as well, so I don't feel too much younger," Foster said.

"I obviously want to get to WAFL (senior men's) level, then I would love to do the AFLW games. The actual AFL might be a step too far, I feel," she finished with a laugh.