Catching Up With Donna - Riddell Umpires Most Successful Female Umpire

Donna Brown is arguably the most successful female to pull on a whistle at the Riddell Umpires. Donna is a boundary umpire who umpired 75 RDFL games (48 senior)  between 2003 and 2006. She is a keen cricketer who has played state level in both Victoria and Western Australia. She originally decided to take up umpiring as a way to keep fit in the cricket off season and because her brother Andrew and his future wife Kerry were umpiring at the time. It didn't take Donna long to achieve success. She umpired the RDFL Reserves Grand Final in 2004 and achieved ultimate success in 2005 when she umpired the RDFL Senior Grand Final.


Following her final year at Riddell Umpires in 2006, Donna moved to Western Australia to pursue her cricketing career. She continued to umpire in 2007 joining the WA amateurs competition and she continued there until 2009. Donna chose to shift her focus to umpiring and this resulted in her being promoted to the Western Australia Football League (WAFL) boundary umpires panel in 2010. At the time WAFL High Performance Umpires Manager Darryl Sinclair had the following to say "It was a great effort by Donna. She showed a lot of talent when she arrived in WA and her preseason was outstanding. It's not an easy job to build the fitness levels required to be a league boundary umpire and her work rate and professionalism has been tremendous".

Donna has set the standard for female boundary umpires in WA. Several umpires had umpired reserves and colts games, but Donna became the 1st female boundary umpire to umpire a senior game in the WAFL when she made her debut in round 1 2012. She joins four female goal umpires who had umpired at senior level in the WAFL. The 2005 RDFL Senior Grand Final rates as Donna's highlight at the Riddell Umpires but when asked about her career highlight Donna said "my WAFL league debut was a very special day".

We asked Donna what it is like umpiring at state level and she had the following to say "Like anything, the higher the grade you go, the more competitive it is. Colts and Reserves is where I umpired for a couple of years when I first came down to the WAFL. The jump from running reserves footy to League is huge. WAFL football over here is extremely highly scrutinised. Only having two AFL clubs makes WAFL a massive draw card. The WAFL is in the newspaper and on TV every single day. You feel a sense of pressure every single week. There are cameras all over the grounds and the media are quick to swoop on any mistakes. It's extremely satisifying running at the highest state level, but there is a lot more that comes with it than just turning up on a saturday. If you didn't start your preseason by November your already behind the eight ball in terms of fitness. It's a huge commitment and work load but I wouldn't change it for anything".

2014 will be Donna's 5th season at the WAFL. She has umpired roughly 90 games which includes 33 Senior games. She will be aiming for a Senior Grand Final in 2014 following umpiring the 2012 Colts Grand Final and 2013 Reserves Grand Final.

Outside of umpiring Donna has started her own business - DKB Garden Maintenance. She trains 7 days a week so running her own business allows her to work around her training schedule.

We asked Donna her views on more females getting into umpiring and she had the following to say "of course other females should get into umpiring".  She does however think it needs to be a sport you love if you want to succeed  the highest level.

The Riddell Umpires would like to congratulate  Donna on her outstanding career at both the RDFL and at the WAFL. We would also like to invite any females to come to the Riddell Umpires and give umpiring a go. You never know, you may just love it is much as Donna does and you may be able to follow in her footsteps at state level.