By Martin Zeilig, Winnipeg Free Press.  Reprinted with permission. 


When the husband-wife team of Al and Martha Bradbury referee a high
school basketball game together it's "all business" when the ball is in
play.  "But between whistles we can have a bit of fun," joked Al, a City of
Winnipeg police officer who is also a head linesman and line judge in
the Canadian Football League.

Wes Crymble, provincial supervisor of basketball referees, believes Al and Martha are the only husband/ wife team to have refereed together in Manitoba.

"It's been a male dominated field, and Martha has been a great role model for younger women," he said, noting that he has been involved in refereeing for the past 35 years.

The Bradburys -- who have a 14-year-old daughter, Madison, and an 11-year-old son, Justin -- both grew up in Burlington, Ont. and were active in sports throughout their academic careers.

"I played basketball in high school and was going to play at the University of Manitoba, but I chose to go to work because you have to play university basketball full-time," said Martha, 38, who works for the liquor company Diageo.

"I never considered refereeing until Allan got into it. His real passion is football."

Her spouse began refereeing football 10 years ago.

"Another police officer got him into it. Then, Al suggested I get into reffing basketball. So, I looked into it and signed up. The learning curve was unreal. The first game I refereed was disastrous. You totally share the responsibilities with your co-ref," said Martha, adding that most people have no concept of the responsibilities involved.

Even after 10 years as a ref that first game stands out because it makes her realize how much she's learned.

"I remember a player laying on the floor and another one tripping over her, and I called a foul. The coach asked me 'How can that be a foul?' I had no explanation. In my own head, I wondered why. It struck me that I had to be on the ball because of the high expectations for refs," said Bradbury, who officiates local high school games and CIS games in Winnipeg and Brandon.

Meanwhile, her husband observed that he's reached a level of football refereeing that few have achieved. But he doesn't view refereeing amateur basketball in a lesser light.

"I enjoy both sports equally. Refereeing basketball is a great way of getting out and being part of amateur sport," he said, adding that CFL referees have a "very structured" six-hour preparation session.

"We're lucky," said Martha. "We've got a great marriage and we get along well on the court."


Martin Zeilig

Winnipeg Free Press 

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