Both games went well. It was definitely a different experience with the larger crowd watching, cheering, chanting and booing. The referees I worked with were all higher in classification and experience than I was i.e. Upgrading and up although mainly Provincials so it boosted my confidence that I was given such a big assignment. One of the referees was also surprised that I was given the assignment after such a short period of time that I had been certified.
The players in the game were quite frisky and rough because they knew it was all on the line in the Provincial championship match. Parents and friends in the crowd did everything they could to support their children including hurling abuse at the referee team. Being the second assistant referee, I was up close near the crowd and could hear all their complaints as well as abuse. Most of the time, I found myself chuckling since most of their complaints were misinformed (since they didn’t know the specifics behind some rules/decisions).
One of the most interesting parts was the pre-game. Talk and discussions in the changing rooms, interaction with the tournament officials and the walk-out. Interestingly enough, after the player inspection, the referee team led the players out onto the middle of the field as FIFA’s anthem played. The teams were then introduced and announced, each following the crowd cheering, in addition to the referee team. There was a feeling of satisfaction in hearing my name being called out by the announcer in both games. We then stood facing the flag for the shortened version of the Canadian anthem and everyone was quite pumped and excited for the game after that.
I know that when you see players upset after a losing a knock-out match that they are really sad that they couldn’t make it further to win the championship when you watch it on TV. However, as the Assistant Referee managing the players in the centre circle during the Kicks from the Penalty Mark, I had no idea what to do when I saw 9 players fall to the floor, covering their faces with their jerseys in order to hide their tears after their team-mate couldn’t convert their final penalty. Meanwhile the other team had already stormed around their goalkeeper who made the save. The atmosphere in the stadium was surreal in that moment and unforgettable.
It was quite a change having a fourth official at the game since it transferred most of my co-assistant referee’s additional responsibilities. Helped bring the focus of both assistants to the game. I also got to work with some great referees and meet a few tournament officials as well as a former National referee.
Very few calls of mine were contested, mostly tight offside decisions but the only item I think I really needed to work on was clamping down on fouls in my quadrant. Small effect on the game but definitely something to be mindful of for the future.
It was a great two games I got to work on and hope I can get the opportunity again soon. Meanwhile, the countdown to my next assessment continues (18 days).