This past weekend closed off two Cup appointments from one of my favourite local schedulers who pulled me out of the biggest rut I have faced a couple of years ago. The two past days leading up to it were very hectic due to commitments to school work and I hadn’t slept over the past two nights (literally). The night’s rest before was crucial so I did everything I could to ensure I was 100% back up and running to give my best for these games. After all, they don’t just hand them out to anyone!
I slept in slightly extra to enjoy a little more R&R and caught a taxi to the venue. I was 45 minutes early and only a few players and one team were present so I leisurely walked around the field before the game to inspect the general condition and the nets. Once I had returned to the officials’ changing room, there was still 35-40 minutes left so I proceeded to brush my shoes sitting on the edge of the field as some wet turf had stuck to them during my last game on a very rainy night.
The wait felt long but it felt as though everyone appeared all at once and all-of-a-sudden there was a lot to do. A lot of joking around with the referees present before we went into game mode and needed complete mental awareness and alertness. The first game (I was an AR) went without much trouble although one offside decision had me on my toes as I saw the ball kicked and mentally took a snapshot of the scene in front of me. An attacker broke free of the second last defender and slotted the ball home after receiving it off a rebound from the crossbar. The bench and team roared in appeal for an offside decision but I was already running down the line signalling the goal.
The game left my ankles weary so I proceeded to do a lot of stretching and the 3 hour recuperation and lunch with the scheduler, SB, went well as we discussed many refereeing topics at length and career considerations. A thoughtful discussion.
Upon returning, I switched into game mode straight away as I was the referee in charge. I was ready to execute a good game and impress as I was informed the fixture was crucial to the next day’s results. Re-checked the ball pressure, ran a full warm-up again and delivered my pre-game instructions to my assistant referees (same crew rotated). Before long we were ready to go and the game went rather well.
One memorable incident was a deliberate handling in the area. The ball was kicked in at waist level and a defender pushed his bicep out in an unnecessary attempt to handle the ball, given that it was going nowhere and likely out of play. The play happened in the penalty area to my quizzical reaction and a few seconds later, it was a penalty kick which was converted. The fixture ended in a 2-2 draw with a surprising comeback from the visiting team.
Post-game ensued discussions on whether the handling was a cautionable offence but replaying it over in my head, I don’t think the ball was destined to go to a fellow attacker. I think just the penalty kick may have been right.FIFA Laws of the Game Disciplinary sanctions There are circumstances when a caution for unsporting behaviour is required when a player deliberately handles the ball, e.g. when a player: • deliberately handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession • attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball