An extraordinary event in the development of Lithuanian basketball has been achieved in the Women’s League. For the first time in the history of the country, three women teamed up to form a full referee brigade for the top league match.
Indrė Balnionytė and Milita Stalaučinskaitė and Indrė Vilkuotytė were the officials for the game between Vilnius „Kibirkštis-VKM“ and Vilnius „Kibirkštis-MRU“.
Earlier, there were two out of three women referees officiating the game on multiple occasions, however, appearance of three women officiating in one game has never been seen before.
Kęstutis Pilipauskas, President of the Lithuanian Basketball Referees Association, emphasized that such an event is a strong impetus in the country’s basketball, where more and more women are showing a desire to work as a referee.
„It used to be a little bit strange, because Lithuania is a basketball country, but compared to other European countries, we had a small interest from women towards o job of a basketball referee,” – K. Pilipauskas has told the Moterulyga.lt. – „For example, Turkey has 6-7 referees at the international level alone, however, in Lithuania, where basketball is sport number one, women did not show an interest in officiating.
President of the Lithuanian Basketball Referees Association believes that I. Balnionytė could be seen as a motivation for more women to come into this field, since she has been granted a FIBA international license las year. This achievement provided an ability for her to officiate in the international tournaments. Important to note, that no Lithuanian women referee had ever received it before.
Despite the facts, that I. Balnionytė has been officiating for over 10 years, she had never had an opportunity to work in the brigade made up fully of women.
They commit to resolving contentious situations that arise during matches and give a decisive say in decision-making.
„I felt a particularly great responsibility, because more duties have been emerging, and at the same time I want the match to go smoothly,” I. Balnionytė said.
Photo by Augustas Didžgalvis
Trio assigned to referee the match had a feeling that such an event could become historic, but they felt excited rather than concerned. On the other side, they perceived it as a recognition of the work they have done.
„It was really strange to see the list of referees without male colleagues in it, but I hope it is, although the first one, but certainly not the last time,” M. Stalaučinskaitė told Moterulyga.lt. She started the fourth season of her career as a referee. „We didn’t emphasize this before the game, we just went to do our job, but I’m glad I was able to be a part of this.”
„We were all just sincerely happy that women in basketball are becoming a bigger aspect. We felt appreciated and deserved recognition, – I. Balnionytė shared her impressions.
There are 5 active women referees in Lithuanian basketball: Erika Jareckaitė, I. Vilkuotytė, M. Stalaučinskaitė, Renata Radišauskaitė and I. Balnionytė. Agnija Vilaniškytė has currently paused her refereeing activities.
No women referee has had an opportunity to officiate Lithuanian Men’s Basketball League game yet, however, R. Radišauskaitė and I. Balnionytė have made their debut in the National Men’s Basketball League.