Novak: New Year’s Resolutions

24 January 2013
Kamil Novak
Busy first 100 days in the new job: FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak

There is no denying that 2012 is to be remembered as a year of mixed feelings for European basketball.

The effects of the on-going financial crisis were felt by a number of stakeholders in the game while it is fair to say that the general basketball structure was tested by events off the playing courts.

One significant event was the change of guard in the FIBA Europe executive role with Kamil Novak appointed as Secretary General in October.

With his first milestone, the first 100 days at the post, fast approaching, Novak visited with to share his experience so far and an outlook for the New Year.

Q: How would you describe the experience after nearly 100 days in the job?

NOVAK: My first two months in the office were extremely busy and hectic, especially as I had to study a mountain of documents and I also had to familiarise myself with a range of pending issues and meet with each of the staff members of FIBA Europe. At the same time I had to attend to a number of new, as well as previously arranged commitments, outside the office. But there was nothing out of the extraordinary there; all this is part and parcel of any new appointment, in any organisation in the world.

Q: What is the outlook for 2013?

NOVAK: The outlook is generally positive. It is no secret that 2012 has been a turbulent year for basketball but I will refrain from analysing the "whats" and the "whys". We have to remember that one must always look at the past in order to learn from previous mistakes and seek guidance for future projects. That's the first thing we should do as an organisation in order to help our 2013 resolutions - and beyond - come true.

Q: What would your New Year's resolutions be then?

NOVAK: Our mission as FIBA Europe has always been the same: protecting the European basketball brand to the best of our ability; raise the quality of our competitions; assist the development of players; work with our federations and clubs in order to help them both advance through the sport. A strong FIBA Europe means healthier and stronger European basketball. With that in mind we would like to extend our hand to other stakeholders in the game, seeking cooperation and presenting them with our vision for the future while sharing theirs. There is a lot of ground that needs to be covered in the next couple of years but we are willing to see it covered, and that's the message that we want to send out at this moment.

Q: There are a lot of stakeholders in the sport of basketball, perhaps more than in any other of the so-called major sports. Are you optimistic that all sides can come together to work towards a common strategy?

NOVAK: I don't see the number of stakeholders as a weakness but rather as some form of diversity. In many respects the FIBA Europe family reflects a real life family. In every family there can be disagreements. Sharing different opinions is healthy and part of everyday life in a normal society. That doesn't mean to say that people should oppose each other with no let-up. Quite the contrary is true; the opinions should be debated and the goal should always be to strive finding a solution that fits everybody's needs.

Q: What are FIBA Europe's priorities for 2013?

Arena Stožice
In the main focus of FIBA Europe for 2013 certainly is Arena Stožice, the venue that will host the Final of EuroBasket 2013

NOVAK: The most important items in the agenda, and our number one priority, are the two EuroBaskets (men and women) in Slovenia and France. We want to see them go down in history as two of the best organised events ever in their respective niche. We are working closely with the Local Organising Committees in both destinations to make certain that what I just said does not remain just wishful thinking but it becomes a fact.
At the same time we want to make sure that useful knowledge acquired at the 2013 events as well as previous EuroBaskets reaches Ukraine and Hungary-Romania, the organisers of the respective EuroBaskets in 2015, with whom we will also closely work this year.
We also expect our Youth tournaments go one step further this year. There is no denying that these competitions grow in stature and quality as well as organisational capacity every year and I strongly believe that 2013 will be no exception.
Then there is the matter of our club competitions. This is a sensitive issue, under constant review and I admit that a major shake-up is needed. Our clubs have been hit hard by the current crisis and we need to take this into consideration when planning the future for those competitions while, at the same time, not jeopardising the standards of the competitions.
Off the court our referee educational programmes continue unabated while we would like to have a proper look at development projects - what can be done and how it can be done.
Tidying up our back of house is another item in the cards. We have some legal challenges ahead of us; perhaps this is the last hurdle in what has been viewed by many outside the organisation as "infighting". Once this is behind us we will be able to focus on the real task at head, which has always been about developing the game.
There are also certain areas where we need to make the offices FIBA Europe function more efficiently - that will be good not only for our staff but especially for the people who are in daily contact with us.
Last but not least reviewing the global calendar is also in the list of priorities. That the global calendar was voted for last November has not shaped the future of the game as many believe, in fact it has only managed to kick-start a relentless debate about the future of European basketball.
We want to engage all parties involved in a dialogue to work out the best possible solution. There is no other way really...

Q: In a few words what would be your vision of the future for FIBA Europe?

NOVAK: EuroBasket is one of the world's major sporting events and, of course, FIBA Europe's top property. Simply put we should do everything in our power to keep it that way. This is a vision shared by the whole of Europe; FIBA Europe only reflects the general mood.
However important EuroBasket is, it is fair to say that our youth programme and our club competitions are the pillars of our foundation. They nurture the future stars who will one day shine at the EuroBaskets. It is paramount that we maintain and even raise their standards; to guarantee continuity.
If you like metaphors the EuroBasket is the expensive, finished suit at the display window of a tailor's shop while the Youth programme and the club competitions are the original cloth from which that suit is made of, at the back of the shop. A good tailor is able to expose that cloth at the front of the shop too, so people know what the good suit is made of.



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