I make this appeal in a week where history will be made when a Female officiates for the first time as a central umpire in the top tier of the Australian Football League. (AFL)
Eleni Gloufisis, a school teacher from Adelaide has been appointed to adjudicate Sunday’s contest between Essendon and West Coast. This is no “gesture”. Eleni has earned her stripes the same way all top level umpires do, working her way through the development programmes. In a true reflection of the adoption of the sport by different cultures, Eleni's Father was born in Greece.
She was identified some years ago as an emerging talented official however her endurance was not up to standard, until now. Her hard work will be rewarded on Sunday and whether she wants to be or not, instant role model status will be thrust upon her.
I have two related hopes for the future.
Firstly, I look forward to the day when news of a referee making their debut will be gender neutral, in all sports because the best, most talented individual will earn the opportunity and their gender will not be a news item.
Secondly, I want to see more “Men” in our sports.
We have two thriving Big Bash Cricket competitions. One is called The Big Bash, the other called Women’s Big Bash.
We have the National Basketball League and the Women’s National Basketball League
We have the AFL and the AFLW – guess what the “W” stands for?
Surely, we must standardise naming.
Our National Hockey Competition is the Australian Hockey League (AHL). This is expressed as AHL Men and AHL Women.
It is well overdue for all sports to follow the example of Hockey e.g. AFL Men and AFL Women, Big Bash Men and Big Bash Women.
The same needs to apply internationally. Basketball, Football (Soccer in Australia and USA) as a start.
The rules the Men and Women play under are as good as identical. Let’s give them equal and consistent billing.
I wonder which of the predominantly Male Administered sports will have the foresight to set the example?