Since the introduction of the FIBA Europe Referee Department in 2004, its support of officiating in Europe has grown steadily.
In recent years many federations have requested the use of FIBA Europe's officiating staff to conduct clinics all across Europe. Special projects have also been introduced in countries such as Russia, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Romania, where the Referee Department has been able to assist federations in developing young referees for the future competitions.
As part of this, Richard Stokes recently left the potential referee clinic in Gran Canaria to assist the Spanish Federation in their clinic for young regional referees in San Juan. Starting with a meeting with International Referee Juan Carlos Arteaga in the federation offices in Madrid, Stokes then travelled to San Juan to lecture the young group of referees gathered there.
Stokes commented, "Spain is clearly one of the top basketball nations right now, and when you have a high level of competition, the coaches and players expect a high level of officiating. Pedro Rocio and his team in the federation have made every effort to ensure the referees are well prepared for next season and beyond. There is no doubt that some future international referees can be nurtured from this group and by running clinics like this."
The subjects covered by Stokes included pre-game preparation, and the personal qualities needed by top referees. In addition to this he shared with the group the latest teaching materials used with all of the current international referees national instructors in Europe.
Stokes added, "We are not only concerned with the 270-plus FIBA referees in Europe. We must also support the federations in finding the next generation of referees, and helping to develop a consistent approach right across Europe. Referee Co-ordinator Miguel Betancor, myself and the other members of his team want to have the best officiating possible at all levels in every country".
At the end of the clinic Stokes was also interviewed on camera by a small group of the referees on the philosophy of the Referee Department as well as what the future plans were.
"They asked some good questions" he said.
"The group, although young already has a good grasp of the commitment that is required of the top referees, but more importantly from what I saw, they are also ready to work to improve as much as possible. It was pleasing to hear that the messages that we try to get across, are also being given by the National Instructor and Spanish Federation Referees Department. This kind of approach shows that we are all on the same page and heading in the right direction as a continent.