This year´s clinic for FIBA Referee Candidates in Europe was organised in Sakarya, Turkey between February 1st to 9th. Sakarya is a city and province of the same name in Turkey located on the coast of the Black Sea.
12 national teams from Argentina, France, Greece, Montenegro, Slovenia, Turkey, China, Germany, Latvia, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine, as well as 30 referee candidates (representing 29 countries) were ready for the annual TBF International U16 Tournament for Men.
Participants at the clinic arrived on the 31st of January. A 2 hour journey between Istanbul and Sakarya ended up in 3,5 hour, due to an unbelievable traffic jam.
Once arrived to the hotel it was time to meet the candidates from other countries, so as some of the instructors. Alan Richardson was the one greeting us in the lobby. It was nice to recognize a lot of known faces from Scania Cup, Alan Richardson's CanDo Summer Camp and also the candidate from my home country, Romania.
Instructors at the clinic were: Miguel Betancor (Head of Operations), Alan Richardson (from Fiba Europe Referee Department), Richard Stokes (Head of Fiba Europes Competitions and Referee Department) and Chantal Julien, FIBA instructor from France. During the week we also had a presentation by the well known former Euroleague top referee, Carl Jungebrand, as well as from FIBA Europe's Secretary General, Kamil Novak.
The next morning (01.02.13), starting from 08:45, 30 referees were ready for the obligatory fitness test which was held in the main gym of Ataturk Arena. Everybody succesfully passed.
Shortly after arriving back to the hotel we had an opening presentation, introductions and orientation, so as the nominations for Day 1.
I was nominated to referee Slovenia vs Greece in Lufti Yaman gym together with Kfir Mualem from Israel and Alexander Romanov from Russia. It was a great game, we had very good teamwork. (I could strongly state that "teamwork" was the word we heard the most during this clinic.) Sometimes we had a feeling that instructors were testing our "team spirit", either in a direct or indirect way. We helped each other as a group, and nobody failed this "exam".
There were 6 games every day starting from 15:00, 3 in Ataturk Arena and 3 in Lufti Yaman Arena, just some minutes walk from the main hall. All the games were filmed and the instructors also made short teaching clips during the game.
There was no direct feedback after the officiated games, but there was possibility to ask for one.
Our mornings started with a 10 o'clock lecture. The instructors presented some clips from the games the previous day, pointing out some things they thought we should work on for the next game.
Feedback from the first day was mainly regarding to mechanics with an interesting comparison to lead and trail official: lead is the "pointguard" of the officiating team and trail is the best defensive "player", they told us.
Miguel Betancor analyzed some play situations, and his main feedback to us was regarding our attitude on the court (showing authority, not power), dead ball officiating, game management, teamwork and communication.
12 referees were "stand-by" the first day so they got the priority to officiate the next day. Some of us had the day off.
The next morning (Day 3), as usual, instructors started with feedback from the teaching clips of Day 2: criteria for general contacts- not calling marginal ones which have no effect on the game (or on: SBRQ: speed, balance, rhythm, quickness). It was mentioned the criteria for unsportsmanlike/"tactical" fouls as well.
Day 4's lecture started with a review of game clips and it continued with Alan Richardson presentation about managing mistakes, the important role of self control and concentration.
Nominations for this day came, and I was really happy to officiate Argentina against Germany together with our collegue from Sweden, Saulius Racys and with Milosav Kaludjerovic from Montenegro. We were almost 100% sure that there will be "some" clips shown the next morning, considering the intensity of the game.
So did day 5s meeting start. All the clips, they took out from games, were to make us understand their point of view regarding to different situations, mechanics, criteria used in the game, and learn from (your) others mistake.
Later on we had presentations by Carl Jungebrand and Alan Richardson, about how officials should keep their standards game after game, with a best state of mind (Trustful, decisive and tranquil). Also how important game management is, especially in dead ball situations.
"Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things." - Peter Drucker.
Wednesday, all instructors, officials, organizers and teams had the day off. We spent a nice afternoon beside a lake nearby with a delicious barbeque. We also had the opportunity for a little "tourist-tour" in the city center.
Since I didn't referee on Tuesday, I was hoping to get the chance to do it on Thursday, when the quarter finals began. Morning meeting started with a short presentation about teamwork and "Nunn's nine play situations for lead, trail and center".
Nominations for the quarter finals came. I got the chance to referee Latvia vs. Germany with Boris Krejic from Slovenia and Vasiliki Tsaroucha from Greece, a game where Germany was consistently dominating and at the end won by 22 points.
Friday was another test day for the FIBA-candidates, with English and rules test on our "breakfast menu". I felt confident that both of them went ok.
After the tests and the review of the teaching clips from the previous day, we had a presentation by Miguel Betancor, "Hardware vs Software". Personally I really liked this lecture. He talked about all the qualities an official should have, how we should educate ourselves and our whistle continuously.
I personally didn't have any game that day, but we all stayed in the gym to watch our colleagues in the semi-finals. Later that day we got to know the nominations for the next day finals.
It was probably the most rewarding feeling from the whole clinic to see my name listed among the officials to ref the final between Greece and Serbia. Fernando Calatrava Cuevas from Spain and Manuel Mazzoni from Italy were my co-officials.
I could say that for me it was the best game of the tournament. Great collegues=great game. Simple as it was. :)
After the game, all our colleagues came into the locker room to congratulate us. This was probably THE moment of the (post)game.
The next day was departure day for all of us, so it was time for a little social event in the evening. With Alan Richardson, if not karaoke, singing is on the "playlist". Everybody sang in his/her mother tongue, and for sure it was the best way to end an intense, stressful tournament/clinic in Turkey.
Last but not least, I would like to thank DK, NBBF and all the people that helped me ever since I started officiating in Norway. The list is very long, I have to say... :)
It was an honor to be there! And a great triumph to have passed as a FIBA-referee. :)