sports

Kick-arse woman Belinda Sharpe just became the NRL's first female referee in 111 years.

The NRL has been a fixture of Australian sport for 111 years.

And for 111 years there’s never been a female top flight referee officiating a match in the professional game, until now.

Enter Belinda Sharpe.

What makes an Australian sporting hero? Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

The 31-year-old’s first match will be Canterbury and Brisbane on Thursday night at Suncorp stadium and we couldn’t be more excited for her.

The former newspaper sub-editor for the Courier Mail has been a rising star in the refereeing ranks for sometime now, working part time as a touch judge since 2014.

In 2015, she began referring Queensland Cup matches, worked the 2017 World Cup and handled a Broncos’ trial match against Wynnum-Manly in February this year.

In May, she was upgraded to a full-time referee contract after spending the off-season making sure her fitness level was up to scratch.

“At that stage I was just focused on coming down to Sydney and joining the full-time squad and getting my feet into that environment,” Sharpe told NRL.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

“That was the first and foremost thing for me. Certainly it’s been a whirlwind couple of months for me, and that appointment was a stepping stone to this Thursday for sure.”

Belinda Sharpe
Belinda Sharpe is making history. She's the first female to referee a professional NRL match in its 111 year history. Image: Twitter/Belinda Sharpe.

Sharpe described the refereeing environment as "high pressure" but said her gender was irrelevant in a lot of ways.

"I've never come across anything like that (sledging). At the end of the day they just want a referee who is capable of doing their job and it doesn't necessarily matter who they are, or whether they're male or female. They just want you to do a good job.

"That hasn't changed over the years in any grade I've been involved in. Once you demonstrate you're competent in that role, that's all that matters.

"The players are used to seeing me out there since I've been doing it for a few years now so they don't treat me any differently."

Sharpe was told the news of her appointment on Monday by NRL referees coach Bernie Sutton. Just last week NRL's head of football Graham Annesley revealed his concerns about the lack of depth in the refereeing ranks.

We can't wait to see her in action.

With AAP

More stories:

NRL's Meg Ward: 'When I was 15, I came out to my family. They struggled with it at first.'

Darius Boyd talks to Mamamia about why he checked himself into rehab.

00:00 / ???