“It’s been a 15-year journey, I’ve had some ups and downs but I’m where I am because of the Basketball Victoria Country pathway…”
When Tayla Flint first blew her whistle at country basketball she didn’t think much of it.
The young Bendigo referee couldn’t see past her country landscape of officiating local matches or weekend Basketball Victoria Country competitions.
“My first BVC event would have been when I was 15 and back then I didn’t take it seriously. I was just there to earn some money and maybe see friends there too.”
Nearly two decades on, Flint now stands a WNBL referee honoured with NBL1’s 2019 Female Referee of the Year.
A change in mind and ambitions saw her move towards the peak of officiating in Australia. For Flint, this change came after the words of a memorable mentor, Ron Burgess.
Referees like Flint have been guided towards success from the enlightenment of Burgress – a Basketball Victoria Life Member and admired referee – for decades.
“Ron gave me a kick up the backside, to put it politely, that I honestly really needed. I remember it like yesterday. From that day on I always gave 110% and tucked my ref shirt in!”
With a new sense of determination, Flint began to enter the referee pathways available to country officiates. Taking any opportunity given, Flint worked her way up the competition ranks.
It wasn’t long before the knowledge and skills Flint attained in the country were imitated on the main stage.
“Looking back now it’s crazy how far I’ve come,” Flint said.
“I have refereed at a few different levels over the years, BVC Junior Champs, CBL, VJBL, Big V, AJC’s, SEABL/NBL1 & WNBL,”
“The most enjoyable is NBL1 though. You get to run around the court with your friends every weekend.”
Years of preparation soon led Flint to exceed benchmarks she had always set for herself.
She was earning gold medal games at the Australian Junior Championships, taking panel appointments and being elevated to officiate the WNBL.
One moment encapsulated the elite nature of her role with the associated social aspects that boosted the entertainment of it all for Flint.
“My highlight would be refereeing my first WNBL game in 2017 with Daniel Battye & Jason Kelly,” Flint reflected. “WNBL is definitely the most challenging but rewarding league by far.”
“Daniel and Jason are both good friends of mine and I’m glad I got to share the moment I had been working towards for 12 years with them.”
Becoming a referee at an elite level is one thing according to Flint, but the chance to referee country matches is something she’ll never be able to turn down.
“A lot of people have this opinion that Country referees aren’t as good as metro officials. I don’t believe is true,”
“I am super proud of being a country referee and believe all the BVC events have help developed me to where I am today.”
Flint believes the next generation of leading referees are already among Basketball Victoria Country.
“I actually refereed the BVC under 16/18 division one and two champs last year and enjoyed being on court with the next group of league referees so much that I asked to attend again in a few weeks.”
Flint’s advice to junior referees is as direct as her calls – trust the process and the pathways.
“Attend all the BVC events you can, your location is never something to limit you,”
“Take what you learn from the referee instructors and your game partners, then practice at your domestic level. Talk to more experienced officials or even ask them to be your mentor.”
This advice mirrors how Flint, herself, plans to attack the next phase of her sporting career.
Flint doesn’t know what’s to come for her, but she knows as sure as anything she’ll be along for the ride.
“I never played basketball as a kid but it’s now something that I love, and it’s become my life,”
“You just continue to referee and enjoy it. The day I don’t enjoy it anymore I’ll stop.”