In late September, Basketball Queensland’s Referee Development Manager Madi Crowley was one of two Australian referees selected to attend the 2018 FIBA Melanesia Cup in Papua New Guinea. We asked Madi to give us the low down of the event and hear what it was like refereeing in a foreign country.
In the last week of September, I had the privilege of being one of two Australian referees invited to participate at the FIBA Melanesia Cup in Papua New Guinea, which is a pre-qualifier for the Pacific Games. The nations involved were PNG, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. It was an entirely new experience from anything I had ever been involved in before.
Throughout the week, we were not allowed to go exploring the streets, and both the hotel and the stadium were gated complexes with 24-hour security guards. As a female, I always had to have a male with me when I was going between the stadium and the hotel. We spent each day doing a mix of clinics, gym work, scouting and refereeing.
The games were broadcast on national TV across several of the nations, as well as on the FIBA YouTube channel, with thousands of people tuning in. It was incredibly hot and humid in the stadium, more so than anything in even North Queensland – we would finish a 600mL water bottle in every timeout or period break. A large portion of the participants, as well as my partners, had limited English, so that was a new challenge to overcome.
I had one game a day, and two on the final day – the finals were incredibly atmospheric, with over 2000 people turning up to cheer on the PNG men as they went on to win gold. It was an amazing opportunity to get to referee in front of such passionate fans – they had police and security on hand in case anything broke out in the crowd.
Even being a minor qualifying tournament, getting to be a part of an event on a world stage was something I’ll never forget. It definitely reinforced to me how lucky I am to love refereeing and get to travel everywhere I do and meet the amazing people I have.