"A Milestone in Referee Education"
eurohandball.com talks to Helmut Höritsch / EHF CAN Coordinator about the development partnership between the EHF and the FIBA Europe Techno Centre (FETC).
eurohandball.com: Which FETC technology applications are being utilised in the Czech Republic?
Helmut Höritsch: We are using the 'Observer Programme', a comprehensive video analysis software for pre-defined issues in refereeing or coaching based on real time video footage linking to an accessbile interactive online platform.
What makes this system unique compared to other commercial systems on the market is the 'real time' aspect. The video (or TV) signal is transformed into digital pictures for IT usage without loss of time or quality.
It means the technical experts can work with the digital pictures during the match by extending or reducing the time line, commenting and filtering the tagged scenes. The selected clips can also be uploaded to the online platform immediately.
eurohandball.com: How do referees benefit from this new and innovative system?
Helmut Höritsch: As the 2011 Women's 17 European Championship has been given the status of an EHF Referee candidate course, both the technical experts responsible for the referee education, the referee observers, and the referees themselves benefit in many ways, such as:
- the referee observers, who operate the scouting system, can select and comment the scenes they want to talk about with the referees in post-match debriefing sessions.
- the referees can view the selected scenes on the online platform at any time after the match on their own PC, in their room, on the train etc. It means that the 'referee website' has been put into practice as an effective teaching tool, accessible for all referees as well as for pre-defined experts such as instructors and delegates. It means that all people involved have the same source of video information for giving and receiving feedback as well as for constructive discussions.
- post championship production of excellent teaching material for referee education.
eurohandball.com: Do you have any personal feedback from the observers and referees working with the system in the Czech Republic right now?
Helmut Höritsch: I have spent two days in Brno and talked to the EHF representatives there including former top referees like Viktor Poladenko from Russia or Mona Förström from Finland.They are really happy with the system, since it is very simple to operate after a brief instruction.
Sándor Andorka, the EHF responsible for Refereeing Matters very much appreciates this new way of working and the clearly positive cooperation of all the people involved. If you look at the young referees in this tournament they are using the head-sets, the 'online platform' or talking to each other eloquently in excellent English which shows how happy they are and how much they entrust in and appreciate the new and professional ways of referee teaching and training. Honestly speaking, we can be proud of that, although we know that we still have to improve by working even harder in the future.
On this occasion I would like to thank our partners from FIBA Europe, Nar Zanolin, the Secretary General, for offering this cooperation to the EHF, Miguel Betancor, the Head of Operations, for being driving force and Antonio Ojeda, the FETC General Manager for managing the IT behind the system.
I would also like to thank our own EHF specialists, Christoph Gamper, IT, Robert Kleiner, Video Analyst and Tomasz Szydlowski, Statistics, have been well trained by the FETC and helped us prepare for the championships by instructing our technical experts and operating the IT part of the system. They really deserve a big hand, so thank you!
eurohandball.com: What are the next steps concerning the use of technology in handball?
Helmut Höritsch: Well the FETC is currently developing the 'digital score sheet' for handball for use, which in other words is the 'video match report' in handball.
We want to conduct a pilot project with that technology at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia. Of course, we are very much involved in the development in order to find a tailor-made solution for handball. Apart from financial investment it means supply of expertise and coordination with the EHF Euro service suppliers like Swiss Timing.
Coordination talks with the IHF are also planned as we want to achieve the maximum possible for the benefit of handball, IT solutions and video supply for all target groups from educators to coaches and media.
I am also in favour of considering a new on-and off-court officiating system in handball by using IT and technology support, for example, the limited use of 'instant replay', but, of course, such changes require careful reflection.