FIBA Europe is more than halfway through its 2004 Referee Clinics in Gran Canaria, Spain, as clinic #4 began on 12th June.
Bringing this educational experience for European referees together have been the Tutor Referees and Instructors, led by FIBA Europe Referee Co-ordinator Miguel Betancor (ESP). Betancor has been a Referee Instructor for years and is an education professor at the University of Las Palmas, as well.
|Technical Commission President Valdu Suurkask|
Among Betancor and these Tutor Referees alone are more than 1180 international games and 99 years of experience. Add six World Championships, 13 European Championships, two Olympic tournament and 12 club competition Final Fours and there is little room to wonder why these Referee Instructors were chosen to impart their wisdom to the more than 200 referees attending the clinic.
Instructors Reuven Virovnik and Valdu Suurkask of the FIBA Europe Technical Commission bring between them 53 years of referee experience to the clinic. They have been presenting the new basketball rules, which were approved by the Central Board of FIBA on 12th and 13th June in Paris. Though the changes are not complicated, Suurkask said, they are important, particularly for the 45 national referee instructors also attending the clinics.
“Because the instructors are also here, they pass the same course and at home, they can teach the same things on the national level,” he said.
Betancor teaches most courses in the clinics, concentrating on implementing three-person mechanics, which will be effective for the 2004-2005 season. Though the concepts of three-person mechanics are important, Betancor said it is even more important that the referees learn to apply the techniques to the game.
“The objective is to have the best position on the court,” said Betancor, who speaks from 32 years and 500 international games of referee experience. “With two-person mechanics, there are blind spots in some situations. With three-person mechanics, there are no blind spots. We have three referees; we have six eyes. But we need only one good decision. The objective is to reduce the number of mistakes during the game.”
Here is where the Tutor Referees come in, as they support Betancor by observing and critiquing the participants’ application of the new mechanics.
“We communicate with walkie-talkies, so [the Tutor Referees] can support the referees on the court,” Betancor said. “Every day, the referees officiate two games. We also have a new computer program for observing referees’ performances, so on the following day, we can watch the clips in the meeting room. The tutor referees help with these critique sessions.”
In the 2004-2005 season, referees will be able to continue their training through the new referee Web site. They will be able to observe their performances via game footage available on the site, receive critques of those performances, take training courses and obtain administrative and technical information and support from FIBA Europe.
Clinc #4 is particularly important because the four international referee candidates are attending. These candidates are from Lithuania, France and Germany. Bringing new referees into the FIBA Europe family makes the Tutor Referees’ roles even more important.
“We want them to understand the FIBA Europe philosophy, or mentality,” Betancor said. “We want them to understand the game. Referees need to receive additional knowledge. It is very easy to read rules from a book, but it is very difficult to interpret them on the court.
“In addition, it is very important that the referees have good communication skills because they officiate at a higher level of basketball that can be very emotional. These skills will help prevent problems on the court.”
With the various changes and challenges that accompany European refereeing, Betancor wants FIBA Europe to be a continual resource to its referees.
“For FIBA Europe, the most important thing is not the clinic,” He said. “The most important thing is how the job is continuted. We need to support the referees during the competition, not just when the competition is finished or the season is over. We will use the games for feedback, provide personal support during the game, utilise technology and build better conditions for the referees.”