So yesterday was an interesting day after an entire week off of refereeing. Or at least five days… Four actually. A little less than 96 hours. FINE! It wasn’t that long. I was meant to have an assessment game mid-week but unfortunately a game schedule change had it moved to a date I am not available at so it left my weekday schedule clean open. No complaining since I had a lot of school work to do.
I wasn’t planning on doing anything at all during this week until a friend called me at 4pm yesterday. He wanted me to join him for an out-of-town game to come watch. Well really it was that the travel would have been super-boring alone through country-side. Having come out of a crazy week and since I wasn’t going to do anything much since I was fasting, I finally agreed and thought I would fourth official the game.
After what felt like an endless drive through the countryside, we reached the field and met two familiar officials. The usual pre-game ensued and I stood at the halfway line surveying the game and helping whenever it was needed (substitution, balls…) until half-time. A colleague suddenly was hurt due to the field conditions and the first thing that went through my mind “Oh no. This is not happening” just thinking of how it could happen in these circumstances. Less than a minute later, I was beckoned to get dressed for the line so I had an impromptu Assistant Referee appointment.
The game was a blow-out and there were some fantastic goals. Luckily I played the “wait and see” technique right on multiple occasions which led to breakaway goals. It was also great to see a referee who could truly manage the players and received respect without commanding for it. Something every referee should strive to be.
Another long ride back and a mini-Iftar (breaking my fast) on the way home and we were quite hungry. The day wasn’t over yet though. I had a game to play. Most people think I only ref but playing helps maintain the connection to the game and fosters the understanding. Just because I ref doesn’t mean I don’t like playing! I arrived mid-way through the half to find out my team was 1-0 down. 30 minutes of game play later, we had won 3-2 after an embarrassing shot over the crossbar from the corner of the penalty area and an assist for the second goal.
On the trip home and after a pit stop at a restaurant to really eat Iftar, I had a nice chat with the senior referees of the league (those who serve as instructors, assessors and mentors) on the way home to cap off what was meant to be a quiet day.
Earlier this week, I presented an impromptu session on the basic responsibilities and signalling of an assistant referee and referee as our university leagues geared up for play-offs and a three-referee system.