2012 Kasey Badger Referees Toyota Cup
The whistle blows time on for Kasey Badger • by: Tyson Otto and Jashvina Shah
• From: The Daily Telegraph • April 12, 2012
• Ready for the big league ... referee Kasey Badger / Pic: Mark Evans
Source: The Daily Telegraph Biggest supporter ... Kasey Badger with her NRL referee husband , Gavin / Pic: Mark Evans
Source: The Daily Telegraph DRIVEN, fearless and uncompromising - meet the NRL's first female referee.
Kasey Badger, 25, who in 2004 began refereeing in the local Parramatta junior competition, will create history on Saturday night at Brookvale Oval when she becomes the first woman to referee in the Toyota Cup. Her goal is to go one step further and join her husband Gavin as an NRL first-grade whistle-blower.
The fact she is on track to make the journey from junior representative referee to NRL referee quicker than her husband is a bonus. "I don't work as hard as I do or train as hard as I do for nothing," Kasey said yesterday. "I know I've got an apprenticeship to serve and I know it can seem like the longest apprenticeship in the world sometimes. Just ask Gavin, it took him 16 years.
"But that's what I have to do to get where I want." Gavin has no doubt his wife has what it takes to referee in the NRL, and her fitness and dedication to training are only part of the picture: "She's got no problem yelling at me so I've got no doubt she can handle herself out there.
She can hold her own with anyone." Kasey and Gavin are not the only people who believe she'll reach her goal. NSWRL referees coach Tony Danks, who promoted her from the junior representative squad to the state squad this year, said it was only a matter of time before she cracked the NRL first-grade refereeing ranks - if she continues to put in the hard yards at training.
The biggest hurdle she still has to overcome is fitness, not femininity.
That is the motivation behind her 6.30am workout sessions in the gym most mornings - voluntary training sessions done on top of the three field trainings and video session she does with the NSWRL state refereeing squad every week.
Training head-to-head with her husband - who is one of the NRL's fittest refs - has also kept her ahead of the curve. It has nothing to do with special treatment, "and that's exactly the way I want it," she said. "All I want is to be rewarded for hard work. That's it." That doesn't mean she hasn't copped plenty from unruly fans. "If any referee says they haven't copped flak they're lying," she said. "Generally the players are really good. They might be a bit more careful around me. The crowd are the worst. "I've copped it hard. One guy even said 'That's why women shouldn't be allowed to referee'. "But that's nothing new. That doesn't bother me. "They'll throw out different lines at me but I think the level of abuse I get is the same as other referees."
The players she's umpired in SG Ball or officiated over as a touch judge in the Toyota Cup and NSW Cup have already learnt on their own to be on their best behaviour around her. "A lot of them will apologise if they swear around me now and say 'sorry miss'." It could be as little as 12 months before the superstars of the NRL are making the same apologies.