With over 160 officials in attendance at the National Officiating Conference in Sheffield last weekend, it was yet another sign that the new basketball season is just around the corner. There was a lot on the agenda from new FIBA rules, fitness and rules tests and workshops throughout the day, providing plenty of opportunity for anyone looking to learn and develop.
GB National Instructor of Officiating Neil Wilkinson was on hand throughout the day, speaking to delegates on a variety of subjects to pass on his knowledge and expertise. “It’s a great experience for all officials, new and old, to come and be educated on new developments in basketball, see the new rules, and work together to develop all the skills we need.” Neil was also joined by experienced table officials Janine Timms, Martin Green and Mark Patton and BBL officiating supervisor Martin Ford, adding to the bank of knowledge that delegates could tap into.
Few topics at the Conference caused more of a stir than the new travelling rules brought in by FIBA to bring the global game in line with the NBA. On stage demonstrations were numerous to give all watching as much insight into the violation as possible and slow-motion videos were also shown multiple times. There were sections of the day dedicated to the new rules on unsportsmanlike fouls, particularly related to a defensive player fouling to stop a fast break opportunity, and a player fouling with no intent to make contact with the ball. Table Officials were provided with a detailed session on the correct way to fill out a score sheet and why doing so was important to players, coaches and referees. With the Conference opening at 9:30am and lasting until well after 5:00pm, it was a full slate of information and development.
“It’s such a good event,” said Neil. “Saturday is the main event for all our officials, and the Sunday we speak to our BBL officials and observers to make it a very nice package to bring everyone together in one go.”
Saturday evening included the Conference Dinner and Awards Ceremony, a chance for those in the officiating community to get together and enjoy an evening of friendship, food and laughter. Throughout the night, awards were presented to a variety of deserving recipients. The Mary Clark award for services to officiating went to Alison Muir, the Steve Lallament award for referee of the year was presented to Rob Hickman and Mary Brown scooped the Bill Taylor award from table official of the year.
There was also recognition for Luke Siena and Nadine Dudley for achieving their level 4 referee qualifications and Rob Hickman was presented with a commemorative jersey after his recent retirement from officiating at FIBA events across Europe. In a passing of the torch, Eduard Udyanskyy was then presented with his FIBA qualification, the highest qualification available to referees in Europe. There will no doubt be plenty of appointments for him across the continent throughout this season and beyond.
“The Conference aims to achieve a number of things, and this season was no different,” Simon Unsworth, Delivery Manager – Infrastructure at Basketball England said. “We have new rules, new procedures, new practices that need to be passed on. But it is also great to get everyone together to talk, share experiences, make friends and tighten the bonds between people in the officiating community. Those bonds and that support play an important role as the season progresses and competitions get underway.”
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