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In touch . . . Waitaki Girls' High School pupils (from front) Brooke Gilmore, Isabella Martin and Shania Kohinga are ready for refereeing action. PHOTO: HAYDEN MEIKLE

Welcome to the whistle-blowers.

Three Waitaki Girls’ High School pupils have taken their first steps towards becoming top-class touch referees.

Year 13 pupils Shania Kohinga (17) and Brooke Gilmore (16) and year 10 pupil Isabella Martin (13) all recently achieved their Level 1 touch refereeing badge.

The trio had to survive an intensive day-long course in Dunedin, and were then assessed on their performances at a touch tournament.

Kohinga said the qualification meant the young referees could now be accepted, pending an application, to officiate at South Island and New Zealand school and age grade tournaments.

She was already scheduled to control a major game this week – the interschool between Waitaki Boys’ High School and King’s High School – and she was unsure how that would pan out.

“Boys don’t listen,” she joked.

Kohinga’s promise was also recently recognised with the Lindsay Dunlop Emerging Referee Award.

Gilmore had her first experience of touch refereeing in year 10.

She and Kohinga got into the officiating side of the sport seriously last year.

“It’s just been a really good experience,” Gilmore said.

“I didn’t used to be very confident, and refereeing has helped with that. It’s the feeling you’re in charge, I guess.

“You also learn a whole lot more about the game of touch by being in the middle.”

There are three more levels of touch refereeing badges, and the demands on fitness and knowledge get progressively tougher.