|Richard Stokes has been to Denmark once before, when he refereed an exhibition game which featured Earvin “Magic” Johnson|
Richard Stokes from the FIBA Europe Referee Department was invited to Denmark to present a workshop to handball officials over the weekend, as part of the ongoing collaboration between the members of the Association of European Team Sports (ETS), which includes the EHF, FIRA, UEFA, IIHF, CEV and FIBA Europe.
The main subject of the lecture was Game Management, focusing on a variety of referee skills that are transferable between team sports.
Stokes could see many similarities between basketball and handball in this respect: "Whether it is communication, anticipation of what is happening in the game or preparation for the game itself, it doesn't matter if you're a handball or basketball referee, these skills and a lot of the necessary attributes are transferable across both sports."
There is a different approach however in the work methods that the EHF and FIBA Europe employ.
"Basketball is a little different to handball as referees in our sport always work with people from different countries, unlike in handball where the referees always work in their own couples.
"We have a common language for basketball which is English, so every referee has to speak English.
"In some ways communication in handball is a lot easier, but I'm here to explain the FIBA Europe philosophy on game management - it's not just about the people involved, it's about understanding the ebb and flow of the game and when you need to be present as an official and when you need to be in the background", Stokes explained.
The audience bombarded the FIBA Europe representative with questions about the structure of basketball, the way officials are chosen or nominated, or the interaction between officials and participants. The contact element in basketball was of particular interest.
The handball officials who attended the lecture were the immediate, but not the only beneficiaries of the clinic proceedings, as Stokes was also keen to examine the EHF methodology.
"Listening and speaking to the EHF Officials here today it is clear that they have the technology, such as the headsets, to communicate on the court and I think that's a great advantage.
"We're actually looking at lots of different technology to use and it's something I've not considered before. I know that other sports use it, but it obviously makes a big difference in their sport."
This visit follows on from FIBA Europe Referee Coordinator Miguel Betancor's visit to the EHF Headquarters in Vienna last month.