WHEN Joe Breukner thinks about his years as a basketball referee, his four years in Colac make up a small part of a decorated career.
But when he calls time on patrolling the courts each week – which won’t be for years – he’ll remember how his adopted city united to showcase basketball and raise money.
The former South Australian referee will take the whistle for Colac’s all-star match, at Colac’s Bluewater Fitness Centre on Wednesday, for the second time.
“Last year’s one, it was great fun, high skill level, there was a great sense of teamwork,” Breukner said.
“It wasn’t just a game of basketball, the spectators were involved as well. Hopefully it is like that again,” he said.
As well as the players and fans, the referee also felt involved. Breukner knows he has a role to play beyond calling fouls next week.
“I’ll be out there to make sure we have a fun game, I’ll do my bit to add to it without being silly. Let’s make it fun,” he said.
“You have to referee with a bit of character and you interact with players, even if they are on the verge of their fifth foul.”
Bruekner is one of Colac basketball’s most familiar faces on game nights, but has a back story vastly different to the top players he referees.
His parents emigrated from the Netherlands in 1957 and settled in Adelaide, where he received his first taste of basketball as a boy.
He shifted to Mount Gambier in ’89 and continued to referee before stepping away from the job in ’96.
Breukner put on the uniform again six years later, when his son started playing basketball and thought Dad could do a better job patrolling the court.
“I came back and thought ‘geez I’ve missed this, I don’t have a passion for this but I love umpiring and I love imparting my skills on junior referees’,” he said.
“I can teach a lot of juniors how to referee.”
Bruekner’s basketball resume includes officiating top junior tournaments and South Australian country championships.
He said the Country Basketball League’s south-west conference was a step in the right direction for the regional game, and he was proud to be involved with the pathway competition.
“While I’m here my loyalty is to Colac. It becomes difficult to umpire Colac and Mount Gambier but my refereeing loyalty goes to the correct call,” he said.
“When I did the Colac and Mount Gambier game I umpired with a lot of pride.”