THE Western Region Academy of Sport has been a centre for bringing out the best in the Mid-Western area and the Central West's top junior athletes.
Now it could also be the place where the top whistle blowers will be found.
WRAS has put the call out for any interested netball and hockey umpires to nominate for the program's new course, targeting those who have some experience calling the shots but want to take things to the next level.
WRAS executive officer Candice Boggs said the program would be run in a similar fashion to those used with the athletes, where coaches would take the umpires through many different facets of the sport.
"It's the first year that we've put a strong program together for umpires," she said.
"We're doing it this year for netball and hockey and hopefully it's something that we'll be able to roll out into our other programs.
"We've got trails open at the moment, and the idea is to try and help umpires in the region that are trying to progress through the pathways - much like our athletes.
"We've got coaches that will help the umpires who will also give them support with strength and conditioning, fitness training and education. We really want to make it an all-inclusive program."
As it stands, the plan for the upcoming season with WRAS is to run as much of the umpires courses in line with the athletes programs, to help those with the whistle get the most out of their experience.
Umpires will also be working with specialist coaches to help get them enhance their skills.
Boggs said the selected umpires would be able to learn a lot by being included in as much of the athletes' programs where possible.
"They'll be going to the same events, and we have Netball NSW supporting the umpires and hopefully assessing them at our major tournaments. Ideally, they'll be giving them their badges."
Hockey and netball are two of the most popular sports within the Central West and WRAS expects there is strong umpiring potential to draw upon.
"We know our sports don't run without umpires," Boggs said.
"It's really important to educate them. It will only grow our game if the umpires get better and our athletes get better."
During the build up to the upcoming WRAS season the academy have been running a series of interviews where athletes and families can get to know the coaches on their Facebook page.
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