Several changes have been introduced and accepted in Slovenia within the Handball Referee Organisation (HRO) in the past five years. Among other things, after the season 2009-10 the men’s handball teams in the 1st division decided that referee supervision and nomination would be headed by a chosen expert, i.e. Mr. Andrej Juratovec, a former prominent handball coach and a highly respected handball referee who was also a former EHF referee, with impeccable integrity and performance in Slovenia. A year later, the men’s handball teams in the 2nd division also embraced the concept.
During the season 2011-12, the idea of “ad hoc” referee pairs was introduced and has been put into action on several occasions. The concept of “ad hoc” referee pairs was defined as
any possible combination of equally competent individual referees, and was built on a changed and modified approach towards training, capacity building, career planning and
development of referees. Gradually, during the season 2012-13, this change in concept flourished, supervised by Mr. Juratovec and a supporting group of several prominent
Slovenian handball coaches, former handball players, and experts, such as healthcare and other professionals, led by Dr. Polona Selič, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Clinical and Social Psychologist. Individual observations were documented, collected and analysed, followed by additional capacity building and individual work with referees. During the season 2013-14, nearly half of all handball matches in all divisions in Slovenia were refereed by “ad hoc” pairs.
The summer of this year (June-August 2014) brought thorough expert discussion and a final agreement on a complete change in referee management within the Slovenian Handball
Community. The concept of “ad hoc” referee pairs was put into full action as an official policy of referee management, i.e. nomination and supervision.
Exhaustive qualitative analysis was performed, using several longitudinal data collection periods and addressing the obstacles to and the advantages of “ad hoc” referee pairing.
Several hindrances, e.g. the increased time and individual approach towards referee management required, were identified, and put a heavier burden of work and responsibility on the 1st and 2nd division Referee Expert Chief, Mr. Juratovec. However, many the advantages identified provided sound enough ground for the “ad hoc” referee pairing concept to be fully embraced. Among these, better individual and synergic performance, better communication (i.e. non-verbal), and greater possibilities for motivated and competent individuals to achieve better results (i.e. fewer mistakes, better performance, career development), higher professional standards, reduced chances of corruption and
other malfunctions are to be especially emphasized (2).
Furthermore, the “ad hoc” referee pairing model allows the Slovenian handball community to get the best referees at the time of the most important and/or crucial handball events
with the highest demand for impeccable referee performance. Real-life situations, e.g. sick leave, business obligations and cancellations of referees, are also to be less consequential for the referee management.
In the coming season 2014-15, there will be further changes introduced in the Slovenian referee management. Handball teams have asked for better field coverage and the idea of
three (3) individuals refereeing each match has been discussed. Several tests have already been made. It is to be expected that “the threesome” refereeing model will be introduced
gradually, also based on exhaustive follow-up and multidisciplinary expert support. At this very moment, it is expected that the “ad hoc” referee pairing, as accepted by the Slovenian
Handball Community, will deliver better quality, reliability and integrity in referee performance. Expert support and supervision are also to be provided as an essential requirement and a factor in the aforementioned breakthrough.