AFL has high hopes for Glouftsis

The AFL hopes Eleni Glouftsis will become an inspiration for more women to take up umpiring.

But the league’s umpires director Wayne Campbell said Glouftsis would only end up being in charge of an MCG blockbuster the same way she has made it this far – on merit.

The 23-year-old will become the first female field umpire at AFL level on Sunday when she takes charges of the NAB Challenge match between Carlton and Essendon.

Goal umpire Chelsea Roffey is now a veteran and officiated in the 2012 grand final.

Campbell admits if Glouftsis keeps developing, she will raise the profile of female umpires to a new level.

“We need a trailblazer and we’d love El to be that,” Campbell said.

“We would love her to umpire one AFL game, we’d love her to umpire 100 AFL games.

“But that will depend on how she goes.

“In terms of gender equality or females having an impact on footy, to have a girl in the middle of the MCG or Adelaide Oval bouncing the ball, we think would be a pretty good look.”

The umpiring department decided to give Glouftsis an official AFL match after watching her in action at last week’s Essendon intra-club hitout.

Her performance made an interesting contrast to newly-retired Carlton star Andrew Carrazzo, who has switched to umpiring and was also officiating for the Bombers.

“She’s completely different to Andrew Carrazzo – you watch them last Friday and El looks a natural and Andrew didn’t,” Campbell said.

“Hopefully in a couple of years’ time, Andrew will be doing the same thing.”

Glouftsis was also the first female field umpire in the SANFL and was in charge at senior level for two seasons before the AFL awarded her a scholarship.

She moved to Melbourne last year and has continued to make steady improvement.

Glouftsis is a great story for the game – apart from being a good umpire, she also impressed at Tuesday’s media conference.

As one AFL official noted, there are 200-game players who do not speak as well.

“This is the point where I appreciate that (her achievement) – when I get there on Sunday, it’s just another game,” Glouftsis said.

“Once the game starts, you’re just another umpire and they (players) treat you just the same as they would any other umpire.

“Everyone has been fantastic along the way.

“There’s been no stage when I thought `I’m a female, I can’t do this’.”

Glouftsis said Roffey had been a great help, but added all her male colleagues had given her great support as well.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley praised Glouftsis, saying she had helped umpire pre-season match simulations.

“She seems switched on and ready to go,” he said.

“It’s a great step, I’m looking forward to more of it.”

Asked if he thought there might be any negative reaction to Glouftsis’ promotion, Buckley bluntly replied: “I certainly hope not.”

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