Sport Manitoba has started the ‘No Ref No Game’ initiative this month.

This has been started to spread awareness for the lack of referees in the Province and for the incidents of maltreatment toward officials. Assigner for the Portage Association of Basketball Officials Don Boddy says referees can receive a great deal of mistreatment.

“This is a really important initiative because sometimes officials are the ones who take the most negative comments and it can be tough to keep them around,” explains Boddy. “If we support officials and train them, it’s likely they stay with the sport for a long time.”

Boddy outlines some of the benefits of becoming an official.

“It has kept me in basketball for more than 30 years since I graduated,” says Boddy. “Another really big benefit for someone like me, or when I was younger at least, I could officiate at a higher level than I could play. So, it gave me some incredible opportunity to be involved in the sport at a high level.”

Boddy notes it is also nice to be able to make some extra money while being involved in the sport you love.

He says it has been a struggle locally to maintain enough quality officials every year and adds a big issue tends to be retaining officials after joining for a season or two.

For anyone looking to become a referee, Boddy says to get in contact with him for basketball but with other sports reach out to the Provincial organization. He says Hockey Manitoba, Football Manitoba, or any other provincial sport organization should be able to get you in touch with the right person.