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Local basketball officials looking to become accredited in province

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After participating in a first-time basketball referee clinic here last Friday run by Gary Billings, local officials have decided to take the next step and become an accredited association.

And that’s a step in the right direction, say local officials, who stress it will add credibility to their positions.

“It was an idea of Gary’s," said Bob Swing, who has experience officiating at the high school level in Winnipeg and Northwestern Ontario. ”And it will lend credibility to what we’re spending our time doing.

“[High school] hockey is already accredited so I think it’s a step we [basketball officials] should take,” he added.

Billings, who has extensive experience working as an official for the past 20 years in Ontario and New Brunswick, said the accreditation will help officials here with insurance purposes—and more importantly, to help gain much-needed recognition across the province.

But Friday’s seminar also was a chance to bring officials together from across the district (those attending came from as far away as Rainy River, Kenora and Red Lake) to help develop consistency among them on the court—an attribute most widely requested by players and coaches alike.

“Through my experience, consistency has been important," noted Swing. ”We dealt with specific points and we emphasized clarification [when making our calls].

“And when we had a question, we received a whole bunch of answers.”

Billings provided the nearly one dozen officials who took part in the clinic some of those answers as they rehearsed particular game-like situations on the court in the afternoon.

The group dealt with theories and new rule changes during the morning session.

“We spent almost two hours emphasizing mechanics, court coverage and angles [in the afternoon],” said Billings, who has already refereed football and basketball games since he moved here from Chatham in September.

“I think overall it went really well—the officials we had out showed good enthusiasm,” he added.

Billings said he will try to run a similar course sometime next month, depending on the outcome of the teachers’ strike.

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