The NBA’s newest Australian recruit Jacqui Dover is hoping to inspire more Indigenous kids to pick up a whistle after being one of six referees to get the call up for the league’s referee development program.
Dover became the NBL’s first female Aboriginal referee, making her debut in the league’s Indigenous round. The proud Yugambeh woman will move to New York where she will work with legendary NBA referee Monty McCutchen as an NBA trainee referee.
Dover said she is hopeful it won’t take her too long to get on the NBA court.
“I’m really excited for the challenge. I know there’s a whole lot of work ahead of me to get to the actual NBA court. But yeah, I’m just excited for what the journey is going to provide,” she said.
“I’m not a super patient person. So, hopefully quick enough I’ll be on the NBA court soon.”
Growing up in Townsville, Dover started off her career as a player but became frustrated with the sport as she began to realise she didn’t have a future as a professional athlete.
Jacqui Dover is set to join the NBA’s trainee referees program.Credit:Getty
Instead of walking away from basketball completely, Dover decided to pick up a whistle.
Dover began officiating locally in Townsville late in 2014 and joined the Queensland Basketball League less than 12 months later.
By the end of 2019, she progressed into the WNBL before joining the men’s NBL last year.
Now, Dover will join the long list of NBA identities who have used the NBL as a springboard to the US.
“When you’re so obsessed with basketball and on that playing path, every kid’s dream is to be in the NBA or WNBA,” she said. “So to realise that opportunity from an officiating point of view is pretty exciting.”
Dover is hopeful her move to the NBA will encourage more kids – especially Indigenous children – to give refereeing a go.
“Hopefully, it’s just the same ripple effect down the chain,” she said.
“Hopefully we see new First Nations officials picking up a whistle and getting into officiating and also seeing that there’s that opportunity outside of playing.”
Dover also hopes she can inspire kids to stay in the basketball system, even if they aren’t able to make it as a player.
“If anyone can pick up the whistle that comes from playing or coaching and that it’s just going to make the game better,” she said.
“It’s just showing that that’s an opportunity. I know growing up I never thought that I’d be a referee. So highlighting that opportunity that’s there for everybody.”
Dover will continue as a NBL referee for the 2021-22 season before she moves to the US.
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