Yarrawonga’s Gail Ralph was acknowledged for 50 years of service to the sport of basketball at the Basketball Victoria Awards dinner held in Melbourne recently.
Gail is well known in Yarrawonga basketball circles as a referee and committee member.
Her love for basketball stretches back many decades though, with her starting her journey in the early 1960s in Melbourne.
Back in the 60s Gail played basketball in halls and schools. She actually hired the local Scout Hall to teach children the game (at her own expense) and the popularity of the game grew at such a rapid rate that it was then taken into schools to play every week.
Gail was a founding committee member of the ‘Diamond Valley Eagles’, a club that is still functioning today and is very strong in Melbourne, and she was instrumental in entering 13 teams of juniors in the Coburg weekly competition.
Gail played and refereed in Coburg and was the referee supervisor and treasurer at Coburg for many years.
She also refereed many championships games, both juniors and seniors, and has received gold, silver and bronze medals in games in Melbourne, Brisbane, World Masters and Masters Games in Alice Springs.
“Meeting people from many overseas countries has been a highlight - I enjoyed it all,” Gail said.
“The biggest thrill was receiving a Life Membership of Victorian Basketball Referees Association, as I was the first woman to ever receive the award. It was a great honour.”
Gail and her husband Jim came to Yarrawonga in 1991 to retire. This lasted only 3 weeks as they missed the game too much.
They went to watch some games at the Yarrawonga High School and left the venue as coaches, referees and committee members and Gail is still doing this today.
Gail loves working with the juniors and seeing them enjoy themselves and improving as players and within a team.
This latest award of 50 years service is a proud moment for her, as she didn’t think that she would stay involved for so long.
Gail’s aim is to still be around to see Yarrawonga-Mulwala get a new basketball stadium. Her journey has been long, but fulfilling, as she loves the game of basketball with a passion and can’t see giving it up any time soon.