A Melbourne schoolgirl has made her debut as the first umpire to wear a hijab on an elite AFL ground, in a move which is hoped to encourage greater diversity in the code. 
By
Naomi Selvaratnam

8 Aug 2013 - 7:46 PM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 2:01 PM

Soreti Jibrael made history over the weekend when she stepped onto Etihad stadium to umpire an Auskick match wearing a hijab.

But being a pace-setter can bring a few nerves.

Everybody was just staring down at you, so you feel like what would they say if they saw a Muslim girl,” says Ms Jibrael.

“I was sort of proud at the same time.”

The 13 year-old started umpiring earlier this year - after taking a course through the AFL.

And while her father, Omar Osman is proud, he is still warming to the code.

“She is the first one to umpire with hijab, Muslim girl to umpire, I was surprised,” he says.

“Because I don't know much about the football because footy's not my favourite, my favourite is soccer.”

Even though she is the first umpire to wear a hijab on AFL ground, for Soreti, it's just about the love of the game. And the AFL hopes it will encourage more diversity in the code.

National Development Manager at the AFL, Josh Vanderloo says Ms Jibrael will help other young women to take up umpiring.

“She's a shining light now for other people just like her, she's there to promote umpiring and to promote her own culture,” he says.

“And we think Australian football's a great game that anybody can play, coach and get involved in.”

Meanwhile, Ms Jibrael hopes she will inspire more Muslim women to take up the challenge.

“Wearing a hijab or being a Muslim doesn't discriminate you from playing AFL or umpiring,” she says.