Allanah Bruno is a name that will forever be remembered amongst South Australian Umpiring and Football ranks. History was made in Round 9 when Allanah made her SANFL League Debut, waving the flags in the clash between West Adelaide and Sturt at Richmond Oval. She became the first female Goal Umpire to officiate at SANFL League level. Her consistency and persistence Umpiring Reserves Football finally paid off when she stepped out on to the ground.
Growing up with a love for football, Allanah took a keen interest in the Umpiring careers of both her Dad and brother. Her brother Michael is also a member of the SANFL Senior Goal Umpires Squad. Surprisingly, her love for skateboarding was the catalyst for her jump into Umpiring. Allanah broke her ankle skateboarding in 2012 and spent the majority of that year watching her brother Umpire. It was during this time that she decided to give it a go and in 2013 she began her Goal Umpiring career with the SANFL at the age of just 14.
It will come as no surprise then that she points to her brother as someone that has been a constant support for her since she’s become an Umpire. “We train together and push each other to get better with umpiring and we always give each other feedback on performances,” Allanah said. It was fitting that Michael umpired the Reserves match beforehand, allowing him to watch on with pride as his sister made history.
Since the inception of the AFLW Competition, Allanah has been a regular between the goals, gaining valuable experience. “The AFLW was a massive help. Large crowds and a different pace of football allowed me to further develop my umpiring capabilities. Being coached by David Dixon (ex-AFL Goal Umpire) made a huge effort to improve my umpiring. He attended all my AFLW matches.” Allanah states that her main attributes as a Goal Umpire are reading the play and her composure.
When I asked Allanah about Umpiring being a largely male dominated environment, her response shows maturity for her young years. “Umpiring is very inclusive and you progress depending on how you umpire the game, not by your gender. I’ve never felt that I won’t be able to go further because I’m female.” Similarly, on becoming the first female Goal Umpire to officiate at League Level, I asked Allanah how she felt. “I don’t feel any different to anyone else who has umpired League football. I hope that I have made other females become involved with umpiring and hopefully I can help them further develop as Umpires.”
Listening to the Umpires who joined Allanah in her debut match, it was clear that she performed well and handled the occasion with the professionalism that led to her milestone match. “My first game is something I will never forget. I really enjoyed the experience and the guidance and support from the coaches, other umpires, friends and family was nothing short of amazing,” Allanah said.
Allanah is well aware that the hard work has just started. She could be forgiven for looking too far ahead. When asked about her long term goals, her response was swift. “At the moment, I am hoping to have consistent League performances and secure a spot as a League umpire.” Many among the Umpiring group believe that she’ll one day be walking out on to Adelaide Oval as an AFL Goal Umpire. “It’s definitely a dream to umpire AFL Football in the future.” Allanah said.
Citing veteran Goal Umpire Steve Murphy as the Goal Umpires group ‘clown’, it will come as no surprise to many that Allanah has slotted into the group comfortably. Her vibrant and easy going nature has allowed her to begin her career with minimal fuss.
Everyone within the SANFL Umpiring ranks congratulates Allanah on what is a significant occasion for SA Umpiring, but most importantly, for Allanah and her Umpiring career. Remember the name. If you don’t, you’ll certainly have plenty of opportunities to hear it in the future.
By Matthew Cummins