CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Emily Clarke and Georgina Paull became the first female officials to work a Canadian Football League game Friday night
Clarke served as a side judge and Paull as a line judge in the Calgary Stampeders’ exhibition game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 30-year-old Clarke is a physical education teacher/athletic director and ski coach in Langdon, Alberta.
“It’s definitely a big moment for both of us, the league and females in general moving forward with football be it in a coaching or officiating capacity,” Clarke said. “I’m very excited about it. I’m excited about where it might take me and where it might take other females in the sport.”
Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s senior director of officials, said the women were on the league’s top-30 prospects list and among the top performers at its preseason officials camp.
“It was them, they earned this,” Hackwood said. “We’re really excited to get them on the field. We’re actively trying to promote women in officiating because there’s been a void. We’re hopeful now that two have made it to the field here, others will see it and we’ll get more signing up at the amateur level, the trickle-down effect.”
The 31-year-old Paull, from Montreal, works for Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“Gosh, I really do hope it gets more females into this,” Paull said. “I’m not sure why there’s not many females specifically officiating football because we have a lot in basketball now, the same with soccer and hockey. But for some reason football hasn’t seemed to get there so I think this might really help.”
The start of the game was delayed a half-hour because of smoke from wildfires.