Each sport is different in its own right but one thing that is unanimous across all codes is the rise in referee abuse. As a result, the Illawarra Hawks, the National Basketball Association and the Illawarra Basketball Association want to put a stop to it. The Hawks' round 10 match against Perth on Friday, December 8 in Wollongong will focus on giving respect back to basketball officials in their 'Referee Respect Initiative' with the IBA. Since the Hawks involvement with the IBA, the club has noticed several issues around referee safety, leading to large drop-out rates due to abuse and treatment of referees. This has sparked the conversation around how the Hawks can help support the IBA and their need to raise awareness of the local and state programs around referee support. As a result, the Hawks want to shine a light on the issue and prevent it happening in the future. The initiative comes just days after the NBL drew attention to the mistreatment of referees and the league office's renewed stance of zero tolerance of this behaviour going forward. One of the main aspects of the initiative is focusing on growing referee numbers at the grassroots level. Local IBA officials will be given the chance of a lifetime to be shown how a professional NBL referee goes about their business prior to the Hawks match against Perth on Friday. One of the NBL's most decorated referees Michael Aylen said that he hoped the initiative was the beginning of a change in trend in the game. "It's very difficult for young kids to get into the sport and stay in the sport," the veteran NBL referee said. "If you want to have younger referees be in a comfortable safe environment to referee and grow and explore the game of basketball, I think this is a great initiative to help do that." Aylen offered some advice for players when questioning a referee's call during a match. "I think in any form of life it's 'do unto others as you would have done to you'," he continued. "So if you want me to speak to you in a courteous manner, if you've got an issue, you need to come to me or the referee at the time with respect and ask the question in an appropriate manner. Don't be in my face, don't be abusive, all those sort of things. "It's a polite, respectful, one-on-one conversation. I think the other aspect of that is if you ask a question of a referee, be prepared for an answer you may not like. But you've asked the question, I've given you an honest answer. You have to respect that. "A lot of people don't like the answer and then it builds again. So it's about that two-way respect." Hawks chief executive Stu Taggart said the experience for the local referees involved on Friday would be invaluable. "We've got 11 emerging referees who are going to come to the game and be part of the match day experience," he said. "The NBL referees are going to spend some time with them and take them through a game day routine for an official. They will show them some of the technology that's utilised in terms of the replay centre and give them a chance to put on a headset pre-game and just have an experience at an elite level for some of these emerging referees. "From our point of view as a club, it's really important." The Hawks will look to bounce back from their one-point loss to Brisbane last time out and improve on their 3-8 record in front of a home crowd against Perth on Friday evening. It will not be an easy assignment, with the Wildcats currently on a six game winning streak as they head into the match at the WIN Entertainment Centre. Club chief executive Taggart said the search for a permanent coach was still underway, with Justin Tatum still in the role on an interim basis. "As you'd expect there is a lot of interest in a head coaching position across the NBL, there's only 10 of those available," he said. "We're vetting that interest and we're continuing to work through that process that we're working through internally."