Women with a Whistle initiative show of strength and support amongst officials

At the 2021 Under-14 Country Championships, the annual ‘Women with a Whistle’ time slot was held on Saturday afternoon, empowering female officials to not only officiate, but to be the next generation’s role models.

Creating a resilient and skilled group of female referees throughout regional Victoria is an important task Basketball Victoria takes seriously.

With the creation and implementation of the ‘Women with a Whistle’ initiative, Referee Development Officer Karin Berrysmith wants to enhance and celebrate the contributions of junior female officials and help them feel supported within the sport.

“It’s been my thing to celebrate female referees as often we’re under-represented because of a lack of role models,” Berrysmith explained.

“The program is designed to provide some resilience, support and mentoring for female officials – we run a couple of workshop and create real life scenarios about coping with players and coaches differently because there are different things said to female officials than male officials.

“It’s also about teaching the referees about professionalism – how we dress and how we present ourselves, not that we need to pretend that we’re not women, but there are some things we can minimise.

“We’re there to do a job. Question my calls, yes, but don’t give me a hard time for my gender.”

“We do it mainly around Under-14’s (Country Championships) as it’s a three-day event ” Berrysmith said.

“The reason for the hot pink shirts is so that we stand out and people can see us and think ‘girls can ref and they can evaluate (ref coach) at this level’ because as you go further up the officials development pathway, unfortunately there are fewer of us.” 

For the under-14 officials, it all started last Friday with a workshop to help teach differing techniques for how to be an effective official and how they can implement a stronger presence on-court.

Basketball Victoria take great delight in seeing more female officials put their hand up to referee games across our vast number junior and senior competitions and encourage more to get involved.

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