Friday, July 19, 2024

Canadian Elite Basketball League celebrates all-female referee crew at Ottawa game

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It was an historic moment for women in sports as a trio of Canadian women made up the first-ever all-women referee crew for Tuesday night’s Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) game in Ottawa.


Montreal’s MP Malo and Toronto’s Christine Vuong and Fei Xiang called the shots on the hardwood court at the game between the Ottawa Blackjacks and the Montreal Alliance.


“I actually felt really good,” said Malo. “It was like being on a cloud. For me, I was in the zone the whole time.”


“I’m just so honoured to be a part of it,” said Xiang. “The women that have paved the path—it doesn’t have to be referees—it’s coaches, players, table crew. They’ve done so much for everything that led up to this moment.”


Xiang first got into basketball as a player and when things didn’t pan out professionally she turned to officiating.


“Trying to spread the love of basketball and trying to stay involved in the game,” she said.


All three are counted among the six of the CEBL’s 54 referees, up from the four last season.


They’re excited to see how representation in the game continues to move forward.


“It used to be, like, a handful of female referees, and now it’s probably a quarter of refs,” said Vuong.


Ottawa resident Frances Enns hopes to join them at the professional level soon.


“That’s definitely something that I am striving for,” said Enns, who grew up playing with the Gloucester Wolverines and has been refereeing since she was 14. “I was part of their junior referee program and when I was in high school, joined the local Ottawa board of approved basketball officials and the rest is history.”


For those at TD Place Arena and those watching at home, it was a night of inspiration and the first of many more milestones to come.


“I feel like if we inspired a couple girls or many little girls or women out there that it’s possible that, you be continue to be part of the game,” said Malo. “Whether you coach, you referee, there’s no limit.”

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