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Female first, NRL history to be made this weekend

This weekend a 31-year-old Queenslander will make history on the footy field.

After officiating more than 60 NRL stoushes as a touch judge, Belinda Sleeman is set to be the first woman to referee a first-grade match.

Sleeman has been selected to officiate the Broncos pre-season trial match against local Brisbane team Wynnum Manly on Saturday night.

“This is a really good step forward for me and heading in the right direction,” she tells Chris Smith.

“And certainly it’s going to be another challenge this weekend but one I’m really looking forward to.”

Sleeman, who was also the first female match official in a Rugby League World Cup in 2017, says she has substantial experience under her belt.

“I’ve been refereeing in the Intrust Super Cup up in Queensland for the past few years.

“I’ve been refereeing a long time…and also running touchlines for the NRL for a number of years now.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview

Image: NRL Photos

The experienced touch judge hopes she can inspire more women into the game.

“The more females we have involved in the game I think is fantastic and they all have something different to contribute.

“In terms of refereeing, we’ve had a real increase in the last few years… there’s a lot more young female referees running around in junior games which is great to see.”