Four Victorian-based female umpires are one step closer to reaching their AFL dream, after being selected for the inaugural National Female Umpiring Academy. Anna Pavlou reports. (COPYRIGHT AFL VIC 2018)

Community field umpires Bronte AnnandGenevieve DevenishCourtney Gibson and VFL umpire Annie Mirabile (formerly Southern Football Netball League) are among six umpires selected for the national program that aims to fast track the development of female field umpires.

Of the four Victorian’s selected, three have come through AFL Victoria’s Female Umpire Academy which provides up-and-coming community umpires with a chance to attend specialised training sessions under the tutelage of some of the best AFL umpires.

AFL Victoria Umpiring Development Manager, Neville Nash said it was pleasing to see the benefits of the State Umpiring Academy help participants further their careers.

“The whole idea of the State Academy was to create an environment that would nurture the skills of female field umpires and build their confidence on field through specialised coaching, training and personal development sessions,” Nash said.

“To have three of our graduates selected in the National Academy is a terrific result for the program, which has been a great stepping stone for a number of former participants including the AFL’s first female field umpire Eleni Glouftsis.”

After starting her journey with the Bendigo Umpires Association as a 13-year-old boundary umpire, Bronte Annand said her involvement with the State Academy last season gave her the additional skills to reach the national level.

“All the state academy coaches; Mat (Nicholls), Neville (Nash), Shannon (Kirkby) and Alex (Anthony), gave us guidance on not only how to be better umpires on a Saturday, but how to be better people in the community,” she said.

As for Gen Devenish, who began umpiring in the Eastern Football League in 2014, the State Academy gave her an all-round experience.

“The Academy created more opportunities for me to umpire different games of football, within different communities and at different levels,” Devenish said.

And while there were sacrifices along the way for both girls throughout their umpiring careers, they’re looking forward to the prospects ahead at a national level.

“I’m looking forward to that extra coaching, to help advance my standard of umpiring to better myself each week,” Annand said.
“I’m extremely grateful and am feeling motivated for the season ahead,” Devenish added.