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30.04.2010, 10:40◄ last page     

The most exciting period of the season is coming up for teams, fans and referees alike. EHF refereeing expert Andorka talks about coping with the tension.

All eyes on the refs

With the most important part of the season coming up in the European Cup competitions as well as in the EHF Champions League, refereeing often comes into the focus of attention.

The European Handball Federation has been working on creating a balanced high level of refereeing throughout the competition season, says Sándor Andorka in an interview with Eurohandball.com. “We are walking new ways,” the former top referee and Competitions Commission Member – responsible for refereeing matters – adds.

Refereeing expert Sándor AndorkaEurohandball.com: Mr. Andorka, what are the tasks ahead of the EHF in the area of refereeing?

Sándor Andorka: It goes without saying that we still need to do an enormous work on improving the quality of refereeing. We are aware of the mammoth task ahead of us, but we have started a strategic work on this and already introduced a number of new initiatives.

Eurohandball.com: What’s new in refereeing this season?

Sándor Andorka: We started preparation for the current 2009/10 season with a conference last August. We called together all our specialised lecturers for a discussion. We were focusing on education techniques and on the biggest challenges.

Eurohandball.com: What did you do on a more practical level?

Sándor Andorka: A number of important initiatives were implemented before the beginning of the season. First of all, we defined a circle of top referees. Based on the performance levels, we identified 35 couples who should be able to cope with any challenge in the European Cup, EHF Champions League or at the EHF EURO. There are also numerous young, talented referees in this group.

Eurohandball.com: The EHF has also introduced the term “top matches”.

Sándor Andorka: As a former referee I have to tell you that all matches are “top matches” in my eyes. But in fact, the EHF tried to take a proactive approach and looked for the games with the expectedly biggest pressure. We expect a total of 25-30 games of this kind during the season.

At the moment, all matches played in the Men’s and Women’s Champions League are among these top matches and only referee couples who have shown outstanding performance so far can take part in the rest of the season.

Eurohandball.com: From a refereeing point of view, this season has been rather quiet so far…

Sándor Andorka: Over 1,000 games are played in the various EHF competitions each season. It is natural that there were some critical and tense games and some discussions. However, I also have the feeling that we had no serious problems so far.

But we need to be careful here! The most important games are just coming up now…

Eurohandball.com: As the tension is growing, what support do the referees receive from the EHF?

Sándor Andorka: I need to emphasise that the referees today prepare much more professionally than before. There are many National Federations that take good care of their preparation. This cooperation is really important.

Apart from this, the referees are also using modern tools during their job. The use of headsets was introduced this season. Our referees have already tried it at the Women’s World Championship in China, at the EHF EURO 2010 in Austria and then in the EHF Champions League.

The feedback was very positive. The Executive Committee has just confirmed that the 35 top referee couples will all be equipped with headsets for the future.

Eurohandball.com: How much help does it mean?

Sándor Andorka: If you have been to a Champions League before, you can easily imagine how difficult it is to communicate in that amazing atmosphere. Luckily, the fans are usually loud and fantastic, so this tool is really useful. The two colleagues can talk to each other without a problem and they can react much quicker to match situations. This is the future of refereeing.

The headset ensures smooth communication between refereesEurohandball.com: They can only rely on each other, anyway…

Sándor Andorka: They have to rely on each other when they are on the court, but the delegates are also there for them.

Delegates, I say, because now we have two of them for each match. The EHF has just introduced the new function of a Referee Guide in addition to the usual match delegate.

This fourth official helps and assists the referees during, before and after the games. The EHF realised that one delegate overlooking all aspects of a match may not be enough at a top game, so at this stage of the competition Referee Guides are sent to all Champions League games.

They help the mental preparation of the referees, control the environment around them and they also contribute to evaluating their performance.

Eurohandball.com: Crucial games are coming up over the next days and weeks. What are your personal expectations?

Sándor Andorka: The pressure is huge and the responsibility of the referees is greater than ever; this is clear for everyone. But as I said, only the referees with the best performance can step on court at this stage of the competitions.

At the same time, refereeing specialists of the EHF must also continuously work on assisting these sportsmen in carrying out their duties successfully.

TEXT: Eurohandball.com

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