Chris Reid and Jon Chapman were like many other kids and teenagers growing up.
They spent plenty of hours on the basketball courts, shooting hoops and trying to block shots.
Reid represented his club Knox in juniors and through what was the equivalent to the current Big V competition, but he was never going to get to the top level.
Chapman admits he wasn’t a great player and knew he wasn’t going to get that far playing basketball.
While having fun playing both, also spent hours on the basketball court in a different capacity, both took up refereeing early in their teens. While their playing abilities may have been limited the two are among the best referees in Australia, and now the world.
Reid started refereeing as a way of earning extra pocket money when he was 14. He was soon juggling playing and refereeing on a weekly basis.
“In the same session, I used to play and then ref three, four or sometimes five games,” he recalls. “I was also playing in the CVIBL and it got to the point I would either have to choose between playing and refereeing that competition. “I made the call I wasn’t going to make it to the top by playing, so I made the call to focus on refereeing.”
The call proved to be the right one, with Reid climbing through the refereeing ranks in Australia and in 2009 he got his international accreditation.
This year Reid has taken the next step being picked to officiate senior international tournaments for the first time. He recently returned from the Women’s Asia Cup, which doubled as a world championship qualifier.
Australia finished runners-up. Later this month he’ll travel to Europe for the FIBA EuroBasket and in November has been selected to officiate at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 qualifiers.
Reid said there were a number of different factors that are taken into consideration when selecting who will go to which tournament, with performance in big matches a key part of it.
“These are my first senior tournaments,” he said. “I’ve got international experience at the under-17 and under-19 world championships. “You’re doing games in an international landscape versus a national competition. “EuroBasket and the Asia Cup are country versus country and there are more things to consider on a larger scale and what’s at stake for countries.”
“Take out USA and Oceania in the EuroBasket and it’s all the best teams in the world “From a world standard it’s a pretty big tournament.
“As well as getting the opportunity to referee some of the world’s best players, Reid said these tournaments give you opportunities to learn from fellow referees.
Reid said there are two standout moments in his refereeing career. The first is officiating in multiple NBL grand finals, including in the most recent grand final series between Perth Wildcats and Illawarra Hawks. The other was officiating gold medal game at the under-19 world championships in 2013. The American team which included current NBA players Elfrid Payton, Marcus Smart, Justice Winslow, Aaron Gordon and Jahil Okafor defeated the Serbian team which included Nicola Jokic and Dario Saric.
Among the standouts at that tournament was a boy from Melbourne by the name of Dante Exum.
Reid, who was part of the National Panel Referee Commission (NPRC) panel in 2016-17, said he enjoyed was giving back to the younger refs.
While he doesn’t get to do many local games, he’s still involved at Knox and gets down there when he can to pass on his knowledge.
Like Reid, Chapman started umpiring for extra money. He has his mum to thank, who suggested he take up refereeing when he was in year seven. He started refereeing in Doncaster before moving to a bigger association in Nunawading.
He progressed through the ranks, to the Big V and SEABL competitions then to the WNBL and NBL. He said the pathways in Victoria, while harder to progress through, had made him a better referee due to the level of competitions.
“People underestimate the quality of the Big V,” he said, “You start their and then move onto the SEABL. The more seasons you spend in those competitions, the better you are once you get a crack.”
Chapman first got his chance in the national competitions when he was selected to umpire in the WNBL five seasons ago. Earlier this year he refereed the 2016-17 grand final series.
He said the biggest difference in the national competitions was the speed of the game. Despite having a few doubts at times whether he was good enough, he gained his international accreditation three years ago and has been involved in a “few smaller international tournaments.”
His selection for the 29th Summer Universiade games in Taipei later this month, is by far the biggest tournament he’s been involved in and one he’s looking forward too.
“There are a lot of good things about the uni games,” he said. “It’s the second largest competition outside the Olympics, it’s not just about basketball.
“There’s an opening ceremony and tournament official uniform. The basketball is of a pretty good standard. “It’s a pathway and the next step for players to the Boomers or Opals.”
Chapman, also a member of the NPRC, said he was hoping to use the tournament as spring board to help take his career to the next level.
“I’ll work hard back in Australia,” he said. “I’ll get back into the WNBL and NBL preseason.
I think the NBL presents the biggest opportunity to keep taking steps. “Still see myself as a rookie and at the start of my career. Hopefully I can be around for a long time.”