FOUR Warrnambool referees impressing at high-level junior tournaments could inspire more young people to take up the whistle.
Liam Smith, Nicholas Unwin, Harrison Annett and Nicholas Annett were presented with gold medals after being selected to officiate grand finals at the Basketball Victoria under 12 championships in Ballarat on Sunday.
Smith refereed the division two decider, the Annett siblings the division three final and Unwin the division five contest.
Long-time Warrnambool Basketball official and referee president Helen Derzsi said the quartet's achievement was reward for hard work.
She said they had honed their craft as referees via the association's domestic competitions.
"I have to nominate who goes to state champs and Basketball Victoria then decides if they want one or all," Derzsi said.
"They have to fight from day one right up until the end of the weekend for places in the grand final."
Derszi said the quartet, who were joined by Warrnambool-based referee coach Thomas Cossens in Ballarat, all wanted to hone their craft.
"They all listen, they work hard," she said. "They want to get to the next level and that helps them to achieve."
Derzsi, who has been a referee for 38 years, said it was important to have strong numbers.
The association is working on getting a stockpile of referees after COVID-19 decimated its officials.
"We have dropped down to about 25. We normally sit at 40-plus but unfortunately COVID put a big spanner in the works," she said. "It is state-wide too, most of us have lost half or more.
"We will be having another referee school in six weeks' time so we'll bring in some fresh blood."
Derszi would like more adults to try out refereeing after their playing days and is encouraging past players to take up the whistle.
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