FOLLOWING in the footsteps of female referee pioneer Kasey Badger, a group of St George officials are hoping to become the next crop of ladies to progress through the rugby league referee ranks.
In a show of the changing of the time times, a recent junior rugby league match at Peakhurst Park was controlled by three females — a referee and two touch judges.
St George Referees Association secretary Rocky Musolino said this would have been unheard of when he joined St George's referee ranks more than a decade ago.
"There were no girls involved when I first started," Musolino said.
"This year we had five female officials and last year we had six which was the most we've ever had."
Musolino's daughter Vanessa is among those that have turned their hand to controlling matches.
"My daughter would never had refereed and then one day she said she'd like to," Musolino said.
"I think it's because of the media attention surrounding Kasey Badger and a lot more girls are involved with the sport.
"People have seen that it's OK for females to referee."
Musolino pointed to a large female contingent involved in the running of junior rugby league clubs who are helping to bridge the gap in the once male-dominated football code.
He said that the players had responded well to the female authoritive voice.
"There has not been a problem and they get all the respect from the players," Musolino said.
"Sometimes the crowd is more of a problem than the players.
"All the girls were footy fans first and foremost and generally they have a family connection to the sport.
"I think eventually we'll see a female NRL referee — perhaps not in the short-term."