SPORT

Teenage Girl Told She's Not Strong Enough To Umpire Grand Final

Of all the weak excuses.

19/09/2016 4:00 PM AEST | Updated September 19, 2016 16:40

Here's what happened in South Australia on the weekend. In the state's Great Southern Football League, a 15-year-old female boundary umpire was dropped from the A-grade grand final to the B-grade grand final.

Why? We'll get to that in a moment. First, it should be said that the game's national body is trying. The AFL has done much to include woman in all on- and off-field aspects of the sport in recent years, and will launch even launch a women's league in 2017.

Female goal umpires have been around in the AFL for a decade or so now. Chelsea Roffey officiated behind goal in the 2012 decider between the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn. But it seems the national governing body's attitude towards women may not have filtered all the way down to bush football leagues yet.

As Channel Seven Adelaide reported, Chloe Byrne is the Great Southern league's only female umpire. She's just 15, and was given the nod to be a boundary ump in the grand final between Mount Compass and Encounter Bay. A big job. But Chloe had impressed all season and was clearly up to it.

"I felt so happy. I was an honour," she told Seven, before explaining that on Thursday, without a face to face conversation, a phone call or even an explanation, she was told she'd be doing the B-grade grand final instead.

"I don't think it helped that she was a girl, her mum Brenda told Seven.

"I think it's atrocious," her brother Luke said. And he said plenty more, and eloquently too, in a post on Facebook.

In the face of the backlash, Great Southern Football League president Gordon Tonkin firmly rejected allegations of outright discrimination on the grounds of gender.

"There was nothing gender related or discriminatory to the decision," he said. "There is no way known... that it is true.

"Our concern over this was Encounter Bay [the town where the game was played] can be a very windy place and this umpire may not be strong enough to throw the ball in far enough.

"In lead-up finals she has had to stand six-to-seven metres in from the boundary line... We needed someone who could stand on the boundary line and throw the ball in."

In the official laws of AFL document, there is no specification on how far an umpire has to throw the ball in, after it has travelled out of bounds.

But there are conventions, and it's generally accepted that the ball should travel about 20 metres from the throw-in. If Byrne was standing a few metres infield to make that happen in previous matches, it's unclear why she couldn't do likewise in the grand final.

Anyway, she did the B-grade decider. And by all accounts, that went fine.

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