Umpires On The Rise

Angela Vassallo:

“At 13 I joined my local junior umpire group in the city east region in Sydney. My first night at training was one of the most daunting experiences I have ever had as I was the only girl in my group and had no idea if I had what it took to be an umpire. I managed to make it through my first year of umpiring, learning the basics of umpiring and even umpiring my first Grand Final. After feeling the sense of achievement from umpiring my first grand final I knew I was definitely sticking around for another year. In the following years I had many opportunities to grow and develop as an umpire. Through programs such as next gen umpire academy and female development programs I began to meet other girls who umpired at all levels across Sydney. Through these I made friends who I still umpire with today. These programs also highlighted to me that goals such as, becoming a female senior field umpire were attainable despite the small representation of female umpires at the time. This pushed me to get my first taste of senior footy in my third-year of umpiring where I ran many games as a boundary umpire. I achieved my goal of reaching senior footy as a field umpire in my fourth year of umpiring. In that same year I was given the incredible opportunity to run my first senior grand final with an all-female field panel for the first time in AFL Sydney. It was an incredible opportunity to showcase how far female umpiring had come in AFL Sydney and drove me to continue working to make many more firsts and achieve more milestones in my umpiring journey.

By my 7th year umpiring I finally reached a long-standing goal of mine: making my debut in AFL Sydney Men’s Premier Division. This was a long-term goal that was incredible to finally achieve. With this brought the opportunity later in the season to be a part of a female panel which put 6 AFL Sydney umpires on a game together in the Men’s premier division. This was a huge accomplishment for me and all girls in AFL Sydney showcasing the talent and perseverance all female umpires have shown to allow us to have the opportunity to run as a group together on a men’s game.

This year I was given the opportunity to run my first national level game at the Under 16s Girls National Championships. This gave me an opportunity to experience football that was extremely different to what I see every week and at a national level something that was new and daunting. This also gave me the amazing opportunity learn from new coaches that I would otherwise not have access to in Sydney. My journey so far in umpiring has led to me to many amazing opportunities and I am so grateful to the coaches and umpires that helped me achieve my goals. I hope many more female umpires get to experience the same as the start and continue their umpiring journeys.”

Alysha Ramsay:

“My journey as an umpire so far has been an incredible adventure, filled with many opportunities, challenges, and unforgettable milestones.

I started umpiring AFL Sydney Juniors in 2016 as a way to enhance my knowledge of the game and earn some extra income, little did I know that it would pave the way to where I am today. Starting out in juniors, I was fortunate enough to have a supportive group of coaches and peers who saw potential and pushed me further, leading to me being selected for the Next Gen development program. Being involved in Next Gen was a turning point for my umpiring journey as it opened doors to development camps and the opportunities to umpire higher levels of football.

In 2018, I entered AFL Sydney as a goal umpire before progressing to field umpiring in 2019. My first season of senior football also saw me become part of the first ever all female field umpire panel in an AFL Sydney Grand Final, which will always be one of my proudest moments. After a couple of Covid-19 affected years, I reached my goal of debuting in the Men’s Premier Division towards the end of 2022. Shortly after my debut, I had the privilege of being part of another historic panel where six females officiated a Men’s Premier Division match, the most females ever on one panel.

Off the field, I was the head coach of a junior umpiring group for two years and thoroughly enjoyed investing into the next generation of umpiring talent. I have also had the privilege of being involved in numerous state and national female development programs including the National Female Mentorship Program led by Eleni Tee. These programs have had a vital role in strengthening the female community within umpiring which has grown astronomically since I began umpiring.

Most recently, I received the incredible opportunity to umpire the Under 16 and Under 18 Girls National Development Championships games in Sydney. I am immensely grateful for this selection and having already officiated the Under 16’s game in early April, I gained valuable knowledge and coaching from some incredible mentors, including Annie Mirabile. I look forward to the upcoming Under 18’s match in August, where I hope to learn and develop even further and work with other up and coming umpires through this invaluable opportunity.

Reflecting on my journey so far, I am humbled by the growth and experiences I have gained as an umpire. Each milestone and challenge have shaped me into the umpire I am today, and I am excited to see what the future holds as I continue to learn, develop, and contribute to the umpiring community.”