RETURNING to the Basketball Victoria Country Jamboree on Saturday night completed the full circle for newly empanelled WNBL referee Tayla Flint.
Flint returned to the place it all started for her as a junior referee when she came to Echuca to officiate an exhibition match between Bendigo Spirit, country Victoria’s own WNBL team, and the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence on Saturday night.
The match – one of the highlights of the BVC Jamboree – was put in place this year and Flint was excited to get her second call up to the Jamboree… albeit a dozen years after her first.
It was a thrill to earn her spot on the Jamboree referee roster all those years ago and for Flint it helped give her an inkling about what could lie ahead on her officiating pathway.
“It was a long time ago when I came to the Jamboree – my Jamboree was in Albury,” Flint said.
“Country basketball has got some amazing pathways and development opportunities for both players and referees.
“It was at that the Jamboree that I got my first taste for it (higher level refereeing) and it gave me some great tips and I learned a lot off the ref coaches – Pam and Brian (Brasher) definitely helped me out along the way as well.
“It wasn’t until probably three or four years into my refereeing that I decided to take it a bit more serious, but the Jamboree definitely helped start things off for me.”
Flint, from Bendigo, has been in the country refereeing system for 12 years and knows what it takes to start as a fledgling young referee and move towards the peak of officiating in Australia.
It’s certainly a bit different than the last time she was at the Jamboree – since her time blowing the whistle back when it was held in Albury.
She’s risen through the ranks rapidly in the last few years – taking panel appointments, earning gold medal games at the Australian Junior Championships and earning her spot among the best up-and-coming referees within the SEABL ranks.
For Flint, Saturday night’s match signified the start of her next chapter in refereeing as well.
Her summer schedule will be fairly full this year with her elevation to the WNBL panel ahead of the 2017/18 season.
It wasn’t something she expected but that magic phone call last week set into motion an exhilarating time as she refs the best female players in the country week-in, week-out.
“Last Wednesday and it was a very good phone call – it was a complete shock and I didn’t expect it at all,” Flint said.
I thought that I had a fairly solid SEABL season but was completely caught by surprise.
“I’m extremely excited and terrified at the same time.
“It’s a natural progression really and just something I’ve been hungry for – just like the players I guess.
“They strive to be the best and you give yourself a goal every year and if you’re lucky you get to achieve it.
“I can’t wait to be part of this experience and learn from the other elite referees that are in the panel as well – people like Jason Kelly and Sarah Carey – they’re definitely mentors and I look up to them as officials.”
It was a complete shock and I didn’t expect it at all.Tayla Flint
Flint’s advice to the junior referees starting their own elite officiating journeys was a simple one – believe in yourself, learn as much as possible and don’t let geography cap your ambitions.
“Enjoy it, learn as much as you can and just remember that being from the country isn’t a bad thing,” Flint said.
“You have just as good of an opportunity in the country as you do in metropolitan refereeing.
“It’s all about what you want to achieve and how hard you’re willing to work to make it happen.”