Ashleigh Hales made AFL Queensland history earlier this month when she became the first female field umpire appointed to a State League Division 2 Seniors Match.
Ashleigh Hales made AFL Queensland history earlier this month when she became the first female field umpire appointed to a State League Division 2 Seniors Match. She officiated over the match between Surfers Paradise and Maroochy/Northshore at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday the 5th of June.
Ashleigh who has previously umpired at the National Womens Championships enjoyed the match. “It was like any other game I have umpired in the last few years except that the football is played at a faster pace. But I was ready for that and really enjoyed the game.” Hales said.
Being touted as Australia’s first female AFL field umpire by many in national umpiring circles does not phase the down to earth student. “I enjoy the game and have played it for many years. If my skills are strong enough to get me to the AFL then I would jump at the chance.”
Ashleigh’s umpiring journey began six years ago as a Brisbane Junior Umpire. Ashleigh remained with the Brisbane Junior’s until late last year when she joined AFLQ umpires for pre-season training and was selected in the AFLQ umpire development squad. As part of this select squad of emerging umpires, Ashleigh receives extensive coaching to assist her with her development.
Queensland has a strong history of developing quality female umpires. Chelsea Roffey is a current AFL goal umpire who recently relocated to Melbourne to pursue her umpiring goals. Prior to Chelsea, Katrina Pressley (now Katrina Morris) broke her way in the AFL ranks in the 90’s.
State Umpire Manger Greg Howell believes the QLD training and development environment has been the key to developing these umpires. “Historically the environment here has welcomed everyone into umpiring. From a females perspective the environment is safe and non threatening with a general focus on appointment based on competencies.”
Other female field umpires have also lead the way in the field discipline in AFLQ Football. “Dee McConnell and Fran Cudmore have umpired state Association level football for a number of years. Their involvement in the game has demonstrated to other female umpires and players that AFL is not just the domain of men.” Howell said.
Prior to becoming an umpire, Ashleigh was a successful member of the Caboolture Lions Junior Australian Football Club. More recently, Ashleigh played for the Zillmere Eagles women’s team where she received the Army Award National Player prize in 2009 for demonstrating courage, initiative and teamwork on the field. When she’s not umpiring Ashleigh studies Human Movement at the University of Queensland in St Lucia.
AFLQ would like to congratulate Ashleigh on her achievement and encourage her to continue with her umpiring.