Richard Bai

Local Association: Inner West Bulls

WNBL Experience: 29 games

Occupation: After 15 years in the international higher education and professional associations sectors, I recently left my senior executive job and bought a local café. I’m now a humble small business owner.

Playing Experience: I played Div 1 Representative Basketball from Under 12s Boys through to State League Youth Mens. I stopped playing rep basketball when I decided to pursue refereeing more seriously. I still play in my local A grade men’s competition to stay connected with the game as a player.

Involvement in Refereeing: I started refereeing during my time as a junior rep player back in 1998. It all began one evening after rep training when my coach asked if I could help referee a women’s local comp game, as a referee had called in sick last minute. He handed me a whistle and said: “Here you go, Rich. You know the rules more than anyone else in our team. Don’t worry about the signals coz I don’t know them either. Just referee the out-of-bounds and when you see a foul that you’d want called as a player, blow your whistle. Simples”. Let me just say, that it was definitely NOT as “simples” as coach made it out to be. But, I loved it! The best part about it, wasn’t the meat pie and sausage roll I bought with the fiver I earned from refereeing the game, it was being asked by the ladies from both teams to come back next week to referee their games!

Mentors: I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had a large number of mentors who have helped shape who I am as a referee. The biggest influencers I’ve had would be Diane O’Connor, Dawn Burke, Terry Strong, and Pat Tilden. Di and Dawn were my local association legends who both played and refereed the game at the top level back during their heydays. They saw the potential in me right at the start of my officiating career and showed tremendous support as I progressed through the state and national pathways. Terry (a former National Panel Referee himself) provided me with the educational foundation and guidance to pursue a career in officiating. Pat, who at the time was the NBL/WNBL Referee Manager, instilled in me the self-belief that through hard work and perseverance, I could one day make it to the top as an elite referee. Here I am today, officiating in one of THE BEST women’s basketball leagues in the world, servicing the game that I love.

Fun Facts:

Favourite TV Show: Border Security and Highway Patrol – more laughs than your average sitcom.
Favourite Musician: Jack Johnson
App you can’t live without! Meme-atic. I love a good meme!
Favourite venue to referee: Auburn Basketball Centre – where it all began!
Craziest thing you’ve seen on a basketball court? A player mistakenly dribbled towards their own basket after an inbound, misses the wide-open layup, grabs their own rebound and then gets blocked/fouled by their own teammate in an effort to stop them from scoring in their own basket. All whilst everyone else was down the other end of the court watching this unfold. Crazy but hilarious!
Pre-game routine or superstitions: I’m not a very superstitious person and I prepare for each game very differently as no day, game or venue is ever the same, but I do like to referee with my one and only “favourite whistle”.