Up-and-coming Southern Football Netball League umpire Annie Mirabile will take to the field at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon to umpire the AFL Women’s match between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne.
Mirabile is one of three AFL Victoria female umpires selected to officiate the match that will feature as a curtain-raiser to the Bulldogs and Demons AFL clash and will also be televised on Channel 7.
Adding to the match’s Southern League flavour will be Libby Toovey, a former graduate of the SFNL umpiring system who currently officiates in the VFL.
Although the appointment came as a bit of a surprise to Mirabile, the 21-year-old said she was excited to be given the opportunity and was proud to represent the SFNL on the big stage.
“It was pretty unexpected really. I just got an email saying sort of ‘save the date, we might need you’ and then a week or so ago I got told I was in, which was exciting,” Mirabile said.
“It’s pretty exciting. I’ve never umpired on that sort of a stage before.
“(I’m) obviously pretty proud to be picked. Hopefully I can do the League proud and the Umpiring Association.”
Mirabile umpired the corresponding Dogs/Demons women’s fixture last year, but with the added pressure of television cameras this year she is keen to put in a good performance.
“Hopefully (I can umpire) pretty well. I did the equivalent game last year, except that wasn’t televised or anything, so I guess this is a bigger audience,” she said.
Mirabile is also looking forward to teaming up again with her good friend and former colleague Toovey.
“She’s left a big hole at the League having gone to the VFL this year so it would be great to umpire with her again. We’re great mates so it should be great,” Mirabile said.
Over the last few seasons Mirabile has developed into one of the SFNL’s elite umpires and officiated last year’s SFNL Division 1 senior-grade Grand Final.
Mirabile was also presented with the AFL Victoria Golden Whistle Award in 2014 for her work in the VWFL and also umpired in the AFL Victoria Metro Championships in March this year.
SFNL Director of Umpiring Peter Mair said that Mirabile has developed into a terrific umpire and possesses all the necessary skills to follow Toovey into VFL ranks.
“She’s developed really well over the last couple of years,” Mair said.
“She’s a great decision-maker, she’s very composed and she’s now got herself really, really fit as well.
“She’s very capable of umpiring the next level.”
Mair also said the fact this match was being officiated by two current or former umpires from the SFNL system was testament to the programs the League has in place to develop whistle-blowers.
“Its’ really exciting to have two (SFNL) reps in that match, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“It confirms our development programs, our coaching programs, and the environment we’ve been able to set up over the last couple of years.”
By Will Hunter
Annie in action at Etihad Stadium last year.
Annie gets the 2014 Division 1 Senior Grand Final underway.
2015 Women’s Exhibition Match
Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne
Sunday 16th August at 12:35pm
Live on Channel 7 from 12:30pm