Jamboree referees must be always in right spot

POSITION, position, position.

It seems basketball refereeing is not dissimilar to real estate in that it is all about position.

This week’s Greater Murray Basketball Jamboree brought together not only 200 basketballers but 15 aspiring junior referees.

As well as match duties, they have also gone through off-court training sessions and daily debriefs.

Referee manager and educator Nathan Smith, one of three at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre this week, says its the best group in his five years at the jamboree.

“Position is everything,” he said.

“Having been a player before helps, because you can read the play but you can also teach juniors where they need to be.

“While there are areas on court that referees need to be, the primary lesson — the key — is to move to a position where they can see the gap between the players.

“If they can see that, then they are in a far better position to rule on any foul, whether it is legal or illegal contact.”

Fellow mentor Natalie Donnelly says refereeing has had to match not only the growth in the sport but the growing skill level.

“The world of basketball has evolved so much in the past decade — the under 12s now have the skill set of the under 14s and 16s of five and 10 years ago,” she said.

“So the referees have had to step up as well.

“Certainly physically you need to be able to run a whole game, there are no subs and think on the spot.”

Smith said basketball, like most sports, struggled to attract referees.

“It is also difficult to get referees who don’t play and that creates its own issues as well,” he said.

“This week is great in that you see the improvement from the beginning to the end in the juniors — watch them grow.

“You almost wish it would go longer because at the end of the three days they are talking together, improving on court and you just hope that the development continues when they go back to their various competitions and associations — and that someone there can take on that mentoring role.”

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