FOR the next week, Ipswich basketball referee Clayton McAndrew will blow the whistle on future Australian Paralympians.
McAndrew is refereeing in the Ivor Burge National Championships which began yesterday in Launceston.
The tournament is for basketballers with an intellectual disability.
It caps off one of McAndrew's best years as a referee, having already controlled a medal game in the Queensland under-18 championships, the D-League women's grand final and in his first QBL games.
"I'm pretty stoked about it all," McAndrew said.
"I've put in a fair bit of effort this year so it's great to be recognised by Basketball Queensland."
McAndrew is the first Ipswich referee to be invited to the tournament since current Ipswich Basketball committee member Alan Basford in 1995.
Basford said McAndrew had become the region's top ref.
"He's done exceptionally well in the last 12 months," Basford said.
"We put a program together to improve the quality of Ipswich referees and Clayton was one of the first involved in that."
Basford said refereeing at a national level at the Ivor Burge would only continue to help McAndrew grow.
"It will definitely help him as a ref," Basford said.
Refereeing has changed McAndrew's life, after he lost 30kg to be fit enough to referee at the state's highest levels.
"I had a back operation and put on a fair bit of weight after that when I wasn't able to exercise," he said.
"I've used that as motivation to really get into shape to ref.
"You can't be out of shape and referee. We've got to be sprinting up and down the court with the players all game."
Following his strong season in 2012, he was upgraded by Basketball Queensland from a panel five to panel four referee, allowing him to take up the whistle at higher levels of basketball.
"It's a goal of mine this year. I'm hoping to go up a level and become more of a regular QBL-level referee."
For the next week he will be refereeing teams from across Australia.
"It's a pretty strong competition. The players are very athletic," he said.
While McAndrew is attempting to take his refereeing to a higher level at the QBL, he is also helping develop future refs in Ipswich.
"I help referee local fixtures as a way of training," he said.
"It's helps junior refs and it lets me give back to the local game."
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