Who are the whistle-blowers? What do they do? Why? Where? When? How?

My first whistle-blower was my year 3 teacher who, with whistle firmly lodged between her lips, flat-footed her plimsolled feet up and down the netball court’s side line. Hurricane-force blasts from her whistle frequently stopped play.

Perhaps you’ve wrapped up against the chill to go and support your child’s team kick a football around? And been glad when the referee blows for half time (cuppa: phew!) or full time (home: bliss!) Your child, on the other hand, may be delighted – or outraged, depending on which side has transgressed – when the whistle heralds a free kick, corner or penalty.

Wales ended second in the rugby Six Nations, thanks to a tense home win yesterday. A mixture of instructions, penalties and awards had the referee whistling at frequent intervals throughout the match, often with a quiet explanation to the relevant captain.

Who, what, where, when and how. But why are referees necessary? To ensure that players know and stick to the rules, that there’s fair play, resulting in a harmonious match.

A whistle-blower – in the other sense – is someone who exposes wrong-doing. Is God a whistle-blowing referee? His instructions for living were to ensure fairness for all, with a potentially good result. But he gave us free will; we’re not puppets at the end of his string. We tend to blow it – not the whistle, but the opportunity for harmony – so it’s a good thing he’s promised that one day there will be perfection, with no scowls, punch-ups, rules or referees.

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