West Kootenay referees make call to stop cancer

Referees used pink whistles during basketball games at Grand Forks Secondary School.

West Kootenay Basketball Officials’ Association President David Brewer.

West Kootenay Basketball Officials’ Association President David Brewer.

Those attending basketball tournaments at Grand Forks Secondary School the past few weeks may have noticed the referees were using pink whistles.

This had nothing to do with Pink Shirt Day (protesting anti-bullying) but referees were supporting a cause just as noble – the fight against cancer.

David Brewer, president and allocator of the West Kootenay Basketball Officials Association, said that the provincial (officials) body began the initiative three years ago in honour of refs who had passed away due to cancer.

“There was the suggestion of wearing pink whistles, a number of other sports had gone to pink to demonstrate their support for the fight against cancer or breast cancer and it has grown from there,” Brewer said.

While the West Kootenay association didn’t participate in the pink whistles the first year (2009), the executive met the next year, talked to all the members and decided to purchase 15 whistles (for the 15 members) and give it out of the association funds.

“This year what the provincial body did was everybody was given a quota and then asked to pay. Over and above that, each official has been asked to donate a game fee and that could range anywhere from $25 to $40, depending on what they decide to do and it’s all in support of the fight against cancer,” explained Brewer.

“Our goal provincially, is to raise about $15,000 this year.” Brewer said that the first year, officials only used whistles for one week in February, last year they were used for two weeks and this year, pink whistles were used by refs for the entire month of February.

“There was probably a little more exposure because of the playoff games that go on towards the end of February and the fans too are encouraged to go to (www.bcboa.ca) and if they want to, there is a place for them to link in to and donate to the cause as well,” Brewer went on to say.