Igor Dragojević: I am preparing for stress

Igor Dragojević: I am preparing for stress

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With young referees, we usually work on mechanics and how they present on the court. Decisiveness will come with time – says Igor Dragojević, a well-known referee from Montenegro, who is a referee, among others in Euroleague.

Igor Dragojević / fot. EuroLeague


On 12-16 September this year in Radom, took place an another Referee’s Camp organized by the Polish international referee, Jakub Zamojski. This camp is directed to all basketball referees, regardless of their age, seniority and current skills. The history of this Camp is already 15 years old,and their reputation is widely reflected throughout Europe. This year, due to the small jubilee, the trainers from the absolute top of European refereeing came to Radom.

Please enjoy the first of a series of interviews registered by us, with the top Euroleague referees. At the first fire, the Referee who is very characteristic and expressive. Not only his image arouses admiration and respect, but also openness to the game and freedom of conversation. You can see that he is a real basketball enthusiast. A Balkan referee whose adventure with the whistle has lasted for more than a quarter of a century. Ladies and gentlemen – please welcome IGOR DRAGOJEVIC

It’s Your first time as an instructor at Kuba’s referee camp. What convinced You to come to Radom this year?

Igor Dragojevic: Yes, I am for the first time at the Kuba’s referee camp and I am very glad to be part of the camp and work with the young referees. For this kind of job, I did not need to be convinced too much. Kuba’s call was enough for me …

I saw You observing young referees during their games. What are You especially looking at? What interests You the most? Mechanics, calls, timing of the calls, refs cooperation, managing the game or maybe something else?

ID: It depends, we do not know in advance, what will be watched, depends on the course of the game, the level of the referee, what are his faults in that game, how he opened the match, the selection of his calls and no calls, etc. … Mostly with young referees, we work on mechanics and presentation in the court, decisions will come with time.

Could You describe our readers, how did Your way to the Euroleague look?

ID: The way to Euroleague was not easy for me at all. I began to officiate in Yugoslavia in 1992 and due to the large number of referees at that time, the way was more difficult and slower. I’ve been officiating the First League for 11 years (the first Yugoslavia, a few years later Serbia and Montenegro and finally Montenegro only), before I got a chance to apply for the FIBA license, which I got in 2007. Since 2011 I am the Euroleague referee.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a referee?

ID: The most difficult thing in officiating for me, is when you do your best in the game but still you make a mistake that decided the game. When you look at the faces of a players then you realize how much your job is responsible and how much you have to always give your maximum, because at that moment everybody is looking at you – team, coaches,  spectators and it is impossible to explain them that we are just humans and that we make mistakes like everyone else . That makes us stronger and push us to be better and better.

Being an Euroleague referee is a quite stressful job. How do You handle with the stress and high pressure?

ID: When you come to Euroleague you are the top referee and there is no place for pressure from inside that can disturb you on the court. The pressure from outside, fans and coaches, is something what we expect and prepare for before the game.

During being a young referee in Yugoslavia, and later in Montenegro – what was the system of referees education? How did it look like?

ID: Today for referees is much easier to learn. They have internet and everything is available to them very easily, plus a lot of TV channels where they can watch any games, as well as a large number of referees camps around the world. At the time when I started as a referee, we had almost none of it, except for a rule book and one clinic before the season. In last few years the situation has improved in Montenegro and we organized several international referees clinics and young referees have quite good conditions for learning and improving.

What have been the biggest challenge in Your career so far?

ID: A difficult question… but I think that the biggest challenge for me so far is to be better from year to year and try not to step back in my career. It’s hard but for now, it works…

Could You give let say …… 3 advices to young referees at their beginning, how can they achieve Your level?

ID: Never stop learning, work hard and have love for this job.

What’s your goal/aim for this new upcoming season?

ID: My goal for the new season is to be more prepared than in the last season and to be better than last year. Everything else is not up to me.

What is harder to be – a good referee on court, or a good instructor for younger colleges?

ID: I am an active referee and I will always be a referee, even after I finish my career and I know how hard it is to be a referee. That’s why when I’m an instructor, I always put myself in the position of referees on the court and I am trying to figure out why they made that  call. It’s easier to be an instructor anyway.

Jan Delmanowski, @PulsBasketu



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