WATCHING rugby league on the weekends with her dad, Belinda Sleeman wanted nothing more than to be part of the sport.

She thought refereeing would get her close to the action.

At 18, Belinda approached the Rockhampton association and started refereeing junior games.

"I guess they were a little surprised," Belinda said.

"But they welcomed me with open arms."

Four years later Belinda joined the Queensland Rugby League Referees Academy in Brisbane and hasn't looked back. In November she was included in the NRL's Referee Elite Performance Unit Squad.

While she's happy to be refereeing part-time at the moment, Belinda said she hoped to become a long-term official.

"The opportunity I've been given through the NRL is really great," she said. "It's a pretty awesome job."

Athough Belinda could become the NRL's first female referee, she said it was far from a boy's club.

"It's just great to have women involved at any level of the game," she said.

"I think they're pretty used to me now.

"We seem to fit in pretty well."



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