Orange Round Ambassador: Jess Mills

Orange Round Ambassador Jess

Jess Mills
First female football Field Umpire in the TRFM Gippsland League

When I first decided to take up football umpiring at just 15, I didn’t quite realise how underrepresented women were in sport, and in particular in traditional roles, and how big of a deal it was to sign up as a female umpire.

I was welcomed into the Gippsland Umpires Association (GUA), who coached me and helped me to grow not only as an umpire but as an individual. My parents have always supported me, with Mum making sure I grew up with the vision I could be whatever I wanted to be. My friends and family have always been supportive of me, and I believe my upbringing has shaped who I am today.

Once I started umpiring local footy games at under 18’s and Senior standard, I was exposed to personal judgements and criticism. This was pretty harsh on my 16 year old self, who just loved footy and wanted to be a part of the game. I would often overhear negative comments before I had even stepped out onto the field.  This frustrated me, as I knew these judgements prior to me doing my job was just based on the fact I was a women in a traditional male role. I was, and still am more than happy to accept criticism based on my performance, just like players drop marks and miss goals, I make mistakes too. We’re all only human, but finding out how high these stereotypical barriers were made me frustrated and completely determined to knock them down.

On 10 June 2016 I officiated my first Gippsland Seniors game and haven’t looked back since. I now umpire local senior games every week and am now part of the Female Umpiring Academy in Melbourne.

I have watched the number of girls and women double and then triple in the GUA alone, which has been awesome and I think the association has benefited from it. I have seen a new level of support for women umpires, alongside new ideas that have formed a more diverse club since I began. I personally believe that if the ability is there and someone can do something well, gender should not even be a topic of conversation.

I cannot wait to see more people challenge traditional gendered roles. There’s something so great about seeing positive change in your community and knowing you’ve been a part of that.

Jess Mills
Field Umpire at the Gippsland Umpires Association.

 

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Thank you to our ambassadors for taking part in our Orange Round  campaign.

Supported by Gippsland Integrated Family Violence Alliance.