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Spotlight | My Story 

          MATT KALLIO

NOTE: On a cold winter's night in Portland, Matt Kallio became the first Canadian to referee an NBA regular season game, opening an avenue for young men and women to pursue a professional career as a referee.

The game was played Monday, January 18, 2021. The San Antonio Spurs beat the Portland Trail Blazers 124 - 105. 

FIBA has selected Matt to referee at the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.


I began my basketball officiating career when I was in junior high. I refereed from Grade 7-9 to make some extra money on the weekends until my playing schedule got too busy and I stopped. Fast forward many years later and I restarted refereeing the 2006/2007 season, after I finished playing at Grant MacEwan College.


When I restarted refereeing, I did not have any ambition to pursue it internationally or professionally. Heck, was that even an option? I started and continued to referee because it kept me involved with the “game”. Every time I would enter a gym I would see a former coach, teammate, opponent, parent, friend, etc. It felt at home refereeing; the gym was home, the game was home. With time new relationships developed and I met my best friends and mentors. It was my love of the game and the new relationships that I formed that had me continue refereeing.


Fast-forward to today; Currently, I am a FIBA international referee and will be refereeing my first season in the NBA D-League. What was my progression? How did I get there? Well to be frank these questions, in my opinion, are irrelevant. When a door opens, step through it, and slam that door behind you. What ever you do, don’t forget to the close that door. When there is an opportunity, take it. When someone offers you advice, whether it is a senior official or a rookie, take it. Be a student to the game, be a good person, and be a better partner. Perseverance is key and respect is critical. Not everyone will like you but make sure they respect you. Learn from everyone’s progression but most importantly be the captain of your own progression.


My final words of wisdom are not my own and all of my mentors have reinforced in their own way:

“Be a good person, elevate the doubters, embrace the well wishers, and everything will fall into place.”

Photo from FIBA Americas Women's Championship 2015

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