Congratulations to goal umpire Taylor Mattioli, who marked her AFL debut in Round 3 (Season 2023) at the GIANTS Stadium, as Greater Western Sydney hosted Carlton in front of a 9,600-odd crowd.
Having reached this landmark milestone of her umpiring career, Taylor reflected on her introduction to the AFL saying, “I didn’t really know how to feel going into the day. I was trying to balance all of my emotions going into the game. I also don’t really remember much from the actual game outside of my first goal and my first score review – most of it is a blur!
“Being on the ground and looking around and seeing all of the crowd, it was a surreal experience since I’ve been that person sitting on the other side watching games.
“Becoming an AFL umpire is something I have worked towards for a long time now. So, getting the call for when I was told I was being listed, and then also when I was told I was going to do my first game, I was so excited.
“I remember the one message everyone told me throughout the week was to go out and enjoy the experience and to make sure you take a moment to soak up the atmosphere. You only ever have one first game.”
After she had commenced umpiring with AFL Sydney in 2010, Taylor progressed steadily in the State Leagues, waving the flags in the NEAFL Grand Final in 2016 and 2018, and being named as the NEAFL Goal Umpire of the Year on both occasions.
She was appointed to her first AFLW match in 2017 (Round 4, Western Bulldogs v Collingwood at Whitten Oval), and a year later, officiated in the AFLW Grand Final. Taylor has 31 AFLW career matches so far. She was promoted to the AFL Rookies’ List in 2022, and was the emergency goal umpire for the 2022 AFLW Season 7 Grand Final.
On how these experiences of umpiring the State Leagues and the AFLW competitions have fast-tracked her career, she added, “I think it’s given me [the] stepping stones and a pathway to build on my skills as an umpire and adapt to the professionalism [and] expectations of different leagues. Each league over the years has provided its own learning curve on how to develop as an umpire.”
Outside of umpiring, Taylor works a Brand Manager, and is a fan of watching different sports, but mainly basketball, and is also a keen water-skier during the summer months. As her favourite pre-match ritual, she can be found reading. “I find it’s a way for me to relax before a game,” she said.
Well done, Taylor, on your AFL debut. We wish you the best for the season ahead.