Spectators could experience a strange phenomenon at Sydney Uni Flames-Perth Lynx tonight.
A small group in the crowd will be cheering one of the officials opposed to any of the players as Tamworth Basketball Association junior Nathan Paff will make his WNBL refereeing debut.
The former Thunderbolt has been working his way up the ranks since he finished playing to focus solely on refereeing back in 2012.
Paff has lived in Sydney since 2015 where he attends the University of NSW and studies Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Family and friends will make the trip to Brydens Stadium for Paff’s WNBL debut which has been a goal of his all year.
“I’m very excited but also very nervous,” Paff said.
“It’s a very big occasion and I’ve been working so hard for this.”
The 23-year-old will be one of the youngest referees officiating in the WNBL this year.
Being on the younger end of the scale is something Paff’s used to. He was in a similar position when he first realised he could potentially make a career from refereeing.
“I can’t exactly remember how long ago it was, but I was approached by a referees coach to be part of a state referees program that involved referees from all over the state,” Paff explained.
“I was the youngest to be invited. It might have been eight or nine years ago.”
Along with refereeing games – he officiates state league matches as well as Hills Basketball Association games – he trains up to five times a week.
But he juggles the workload in the hope of one day achieving his end goal.
“Ultimately, I would love to referee in the NBL and get my FIBA [International Basketball Federation] badge and referee internationally but I also have a passion for engineering as well,” Paff said.
“Refereeing is probably my pick of the two but at the end of the day, I need to have a back-up.”
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