|Richard Stokes, Head of the FIBA Europe Referee Department, among participants at the national referee and observers clinic in Switzerland|
Every September, the referee department of the Swiss Basketball Federation organises a two-day clinic for the referees of the men's first division, just before the season gets underway.
The organisers have made a habit of inviting a high-profile instructor in every edition, in their continuous effort to keep referees in Switzerland in touch with the latest developments elsewhere in Europe.
International referee Luigi Lamonica was a guest lecturer in 2010 while Slovak national instructor Petr Sudek attended last year.
This September however, the Swiss federation could count with the direct involvement of FIBA Europe for the very first time.
Richard Stokes, Head of FIBA Europe Referees and Competitions department, was invited to assist with the 2012 clinic that took place last weekend in the peaceful town of Vétroz, near Sion.
The 23 referees of the domestic men's first division and 11 referee observers who are active in the men's 1st, 2nd and 3rd divisions and women's 1st division participated in the clinic and attended lectures on Pre-Game and Post-Game Preparation and on Game Management and Mechanics.
Most importantly however, Stokes introduced participants to a methodology that normally only international referees and referee observers or instructors that take part in FIBA Europe competitions are familiar with.
Two pre-season games were arranged on Saturday, where the referees were observed and assessed using the FIBA Europe Referee Observer software programme.
Stokes was able to provide immediate feedback to the referees after each half in both games and a video analysis was presented to all the officials as a feedback session on Sunday morning.
"This tool is new for almost all the observers who were present. This was really a great opportunity for them to see how the observers work in an international competition and also for the referees, who could see immediately after the game the points they need to improve on," explained David Musard from the Swiss Federation.
|23 referees and 11 referee observers attended the two-day clinic in Vétroz|
"The games gave a great opportunity to the officials to receive instant feedback," agreed Stokes.
"The observers were also able to see how the Observer programme works and what aspects of officiating we were looking to review and improve.
"It was tough for these referees to be under the spotlight in front of their peers, but they worked hard and were able to take away the plays that were important to continue to review them."
The Swiss Federation received enthusiastic comments from all participants and is already thinking about collaborating further with FIBA Europe in the 2013 edition of the clinic or beyond.
"The support given by FIBA Europe on this occasion is really an improvement and a big chance for the referee department of the Swiss Basketball Federation, said Musard.
"We really hope to be able to count on FIBA Europe's excellent help in the future."
Richard Stokes echoed that sentiment when he summed up FIBA Europe's view on the clinic.
"This was our first clinic in Switzerland and it is clear that the officials are very committed to officiating at the highest level," he noted.
"They have a good mentoring system which they want to use to support the younger referees.
"I am sure that many of the young referees will have some great opportunities in the coming seasons. We discussed the possibility of returning for another clinic in the future, which of course we are ready to do if possible."