Continued referee education in the USA with eye on LA 2028

20 Apr. 2021

Continued referee education in the USA with eye on LA 2028

Across three weekends in March and April, USA Team Handball (USATH) in conjunction with the IHF, ran an ‘Intermediate Referee Course’ – the second of three planned free courses which aim to provide handball officials in the North American country with the best knowledge for their roles. 

The ‘Intermediate Referee Course’ was held via Zoom on three consecutive Saturdays – 27 March, 3 April and 10 April – three steps towards the ongoing goal of motivating and strengthening both the quantity and quality of referees within USATH but also with an eye on the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games with roles as referees, technical delegates, statisticians, timekeepers and scorekeepers for the Games potentially available.

Like last year, the course was led by Per Morten Sodal, IHF Playing Rules and Referees Commission (PRC) Lecturer and IHF Official. Joining Sodal was USATH National Referee Committee Chair Tugomir Anusic and IHF PRC Chairman Ramon Gallego.

More than 110 people registered with each session lasting around two hours with the first Saturday covering ‘7m and the Goal Area’, the second Saturday looking at ‘Attackers’ Faults & Provocations’ and the third and final session looking at ‘Body Language’.

A message of ‘finding a line’ was consistent in the sessions which also saw participants able to ask, and have answered, questions throughout by Sodal who used examples from the 2021 IHF Men’s World Championship, the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship, Olympic Qualification Tournaments and leagues around the world to illustrate the various topics.

Sodal started the course with a clear goal written on the first slide for everyone to see: ‘LA 2028 – YOU can be there’.

“This is the big target for this course, to build up USA Team Handball so we are ready for LA 2028 and for the future but it will take time,” he explained, before explaining the potential roles available. 

“We hope to come and view you in the USA soon to see the high level [you’re at]. What is most important is what you do in your own competitions and communities.

“The game is getting quicker and quicker, the players are getting stronger and stronger,” he added. “The referees must be ‘athletes’. The role demands concentration and mental strength. Referees are leaders of the game and they need management skills. A study has shown 1,000 decisions are taken during two 30 minutes halves in handball and we must aim for perfection.”

“This is the second step but in the future there are lots of steps, and our finish line is LA 2028,” said Gallego. “We want you to become better, to develop handball in the USA and I really hope we can be together soon face-to-face to discuss openly when you are able to whistle and we are able to send our advice. 

“There are a lot of important topics at a high level. Open your eyes and take with you all the videos, advice and lessons and from time-to-time look again, read your notes, we are always able to help,” he concluded.

Tugomir Anusic, Chair of the USATH National Referee Committee, had a final word of encouragement for everyone involved upon the conclusion of the course.

“This has been a really good education,” he said. “It’s a great reminder for all referees to know that we are the leaders of the game and in the first 10 minutes we show the players and everyone involved in the game how we are going to lead it.

“We are not police officers on court; we are just helpers to help the players achieve the best results according to the rules of the game and that’s what we need to keep in our minds going forward.”

The ‘Intermediate Referee Course’ follows on from the ‘Beginners Referee Course’ in 2020 with an ‘Advanced’ course planned for the future.

For more information about USATH, visit their website.

Photo: USA Team Handball