NRL reacts as referee booted from game
Referees are rarely told how much they're appreciated until they're gone - and that's the case with Gavin Badger after it emerged on Wednesday night his lengthy career with the whistle is over.
Badger's daughter Shante posted an emotional message to social media revealing "it was not her dad's choice to end his refereeing career".
"This isn't how we thought it would end. It's not how you deserve for it to end. You deserve better," Shante wrote.
"For most of my life I've watched my Dad out on the field refereeing NRL," she added. "On Saturday I will watch him out there for the last time ever. To say I am sad is an understatement.
"So proud of what you've achieved Dad and I'll keep being proud of everything you will achieve after footy. We love you."
His wife and fellow referee Kasey Badger posted a similar message, writing: "There goes my hero."
A Channel 9 reporter, who writes under the pseudonym The Mole, also congratulated Badger on a "fine career" but claimed he was "shafted because he wasn't 'one of the boys'", describing it as a "sad state of affairs".
Badger took charge of 354 NRL games as referee and will officiate his final game as a touch judge for the Bulldogs-Panthers clash this weekend.
The 47-year-old bravely opened up on his private battle dealing with being sexually abused as a child in the hope of raising awareness for prevention and to support fellow survivors earlier this year.
In a confronting interview Badger detailed how he struggled to deal with life in the aftermath of his attack when he was just an 11-year-old boy.
"I'm Gavin Badger and I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse," Badger told NRL.com.
"As an 11 year-old kid I was sexually abused by a family friend. It was frightening to even think about speaking up.
"I was told when I was abused that if I did speak up that I would be killed. After the abuse I was directed to a cupboard with a gun in it and I don't know if it was real because I was a kid, but they said if you tell anyone I will shoot you with that."
Badger's main reason for coming forward and opening up on his private struggle was to help raise awareness and stop other children from having to go through what he went through.
"My main message to get out there is that child sexual abuse is most often carried out by someone you know," Badger explained.
"It is about making sure that your kids are in safe environments."
Badger's abuse forced him to go down a common road for victims of drug abuse as a young man, while he struggled to come to terms with the incident that shaped early years.
"There was a change in me that I didn't notice, I just thought that was me," Badger explained.
"That also led at a young age to dabbling with drugs. I was 12. It was a lot of drugs over a long time. I couldn't find the courage to come out and say what had happened."
However with the support of his wife, Badger eventually felt comfortable enough to tell his story.
"The first time I ever spoke about it was with my wife Kasey," Badger revealed.
"We had been together five years and once I told her I just felt different."
- with foxsports.com.au
Originally published as NRL reacts as referee booted from game