WHILE she is not sure just when and where it will be, Bendigo's Tayla Flint can't wait to step back onto the basketball court for the first time in more than a month.
The WNBL and NBL1 referee will likely do so with an extra bounce in her step after being granted her FIBA international licence for the first time.
Flint received official notification of her accreditation last week.
She is one of only 14 Australians to currently hold a FIBA licence, valid from 2021-23, and one of five newcomers.
Her elevation could not have come at a more opportune time, with Flint dealing with the disappointment of a wildly interrupted NBL1 season - a season which was cancelled on Wednesday after months of COVID uncertainty.
"I had known about the nomination since November last year - I've been patiently waiting, so I'm super excited," she said.
"There was a lot more involved than what I thought there would be.
"There's a fitness component along with three different theory exams.
"In terms of getting to be nominated, it's been a combination of hard work, not quitting when I thought I wanted to and a little luck."
Securing her FIBA licence has been a long-held ambition for Flint, who took her first tentative steps into the refereeing ranks nearly 17 years ago with the Bendigo Basketball Association.
She recalls her origins vividly and with tremendous pride.
"I started in 2005 at Bendigo under the guidance of the late Paul Harrower," Flint said.
"I saw a poster on the wall for a referee course. My dad had been nagging me to get a job, so I thought why not."
She has since gone on to officiate in four WNBL seasons, although not in last year's hub season in Queensland, and eight in the NBL1 (formerly known as the SEABL), as well as the Big V.
Named as the NBL1's female referee of the year in 2019, after officiating a mix of men's and women's matches, her award came 12 months after Flint refereed the 2018 SEABL women's grand final between the Bendigo Braves and Launceston Tornadoes.
It stands as the biggest game she has officiated to this point of her career.
As a first-year FIBA licence holder, Flint will hold a 'white' licence, which will give her status to referee junior international games and senior or junior practice games for teams like the Opals and Boomers.
While she has definite long-term ambitions in the sport, Flint would be just as content with a return to the court at any level after so much missed basketball over the past two years.
"Watching the Olympics has really inspired me to work towards attending an Olympics in the future, but short term, I just want to get back on court and enjoying refereeing because I haven't had a full season since 2019," she said.
"It (the disruption) is felt by the officials just as much as the players.
"This season has been stop-start since April, which has an impact on your game fitness - you're just not sharp and a bit slow to make decisions.
"I've been watching my games back to try to stay engaged."
Encouragingly for both Flint and Basketball Australia, which has identified the need to create pathways for women through officiating, four of the five new licence holders are females.
It's a situation she hopes will encourage more young females to stay the course in refereeing.
"I hope so, there has been a push from FIBA to promote women in basketball, so I think this will really encourage the girls to stick at it," Flint said.
"There are some great young female officials coming through the referee pathways, so I'd love to see them getting FIBA licences in the future."
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