Football. Stanley’s Rose Xerri has always embraced change in her life with a new home, a new league and a new position this year no exception.
The 54-year-old was recently appointed as head coach of the Circular Head Football Umpires Association for the 2015 season, moving permanently to the seaside town late last year from Melbourne after initially purchasing the property a decade ago.
With 15 years of experience officiating in the Northern Football League, Rose said she saw the local position advertised and was eager to take up a new challenge, thankful for the opportunity as the football season approaches.
“My philosophy is there are that many opportunities and so much to see and do in life – you’ve got to live in the moment,” she said.
“You’re always looking forward to the season . . . just seeing how football works around this part.”
Growing up in Fawkner among Melbourne’s northern suburbs, she moved to Moondah and pursued a career in dental nursing for 10 years before moving to work as a teacher’s aide for the same period of time, travelling overseas regularly in between.
A passion for fitness and the outdoors led her onto a new path with the NFL, initially taking up a boundary umpire position on Saturdays for seniors and moving to field umpire with junior grades on Sundays.
She described it as a tough initiation into a sport so ingrained with a stereotype, with the idea of a female umpire a relatively foreign concept at the time.
“To me when I started in football, it was dominated by males so I saw it as a challenge to take it up,” she said.
“In my first year, I was the only female umpiring. I can remember some comments . . . in other words, if you’re not a male you can’t umpire.”
However over the years she witnessed attitudes change dramatically, now believing female umpires have become a “very acceptable” part of competition to be respected by players, coaches and spectators.
So impressive was her reputation within the NFL that she was asked to be the league’s female ambassador this year; an offer she had to decline due to moving to Tasmania.
Training in her new role has already begun as she leads a team of more than 10 on and off the field, with a focus on consistency and better positioning around the ground using the two-umpire system.
“I love it: I love the challenge of making those decisions and keeping fit,” she said of the role.
“I’m trying to recruit some new umpires. Hopefully with some new energy and new blood, we can improve Circular Head football.”