With all the fan fare of the new AFLW league entering its third week of competition and new AFL fans craving news of their latest stars one of the most significant appointments in VFL/AFL history has virtually gone unheralded.
Eleni Glouftsis who umpired a NAB Cup preseason match in February 2016 under the media spotlight has 12 months later become the first female field umpire appointed to the senior AFL list in the history of the game.
Eleni, takes the thirty-third and final place on the AFL list for season 2017. The place for a pathway umpire has been filled in previous years by Jordan Bannister, Leigh Fisher and more recently by Brent Wallace who all come from senior playing backgrounds. Eleni has had to earn her place by coming through the ranks, firstly in the SANFL and then in the past two years through the VFL. Eleni has umpired 28 senior VFL games and 17 SANFL senior matches. She umpired her first senior game in 2013.
When asked for her thoughts about her elevation to the list she was very excited, “Now I just have to continue to perform and improve in the VFL and hope that I get a chance to umpire AFL football at some stage this year.” Eleni’s elevation to the list was received very warmly by her AFL colleagues when the announcement was made earlier this week.
In an earlier interview Eleni said she was tempted to get back into playing as she did as a child until her pathway ended as a 13 year old. “I took up umpiring because I loved the game and wanted to stay involved. Perhaps if I hadn’t got this far I would’ve pulled the boots back on.”
Eleni will step out this weekend in the GWS v WCE preseason match in Narrandera.