Rewinding back to this Wednesday, I was busy settling into work at home after having returned from classes when… I heard my roommate through the wall burst into tears and saying “No no no no no…”. I have to say I was puzzled right at the time until it clicked in my mind. UEFA Champions League was on and Arsenal was playing Borussia Dortmund away. My roommate was an Arsenal fan so I could only assume Dortmund has scored on them but by the time I got onto an online stream, I saw Arsenal had scored and were 1-0 up. This left me even more puzzled so I walked over to his room and asked him what was going on. He was crying with happiness. The weirdness of football.
Also in the past week having chatted with a few referees from various other sports, it seems there is a clear distinction that our sport brings a lot more dissent and complaints than others. This left me puzzled as well wondering why. Could it be the passion? Is it because our game is more beautiful and more emotional or is this a dark side? Why is the respect for referees the least in our sport? Questions I hope that have a positive answer.
I spent Friday, which felt like the longest day in a while, working with a local charity tournament as a volunteer referee-in-chief. Game assignments were done late the previous night when games were scheduled. When Friday night had finished, it felt like it was already Sunday night – a great feeling when it isn’t! I spent a few hours volunteering, watching referees and a few games as well as advocating for my Futsal league next term to generate more interest. I got just over an hour break to go home for a quick rest before coming back again to run a skills shootout competition and referee my own trio of games for the evening. Before I started my games, I was having a chat with the facility staff when I felt a tap on my shoulder and to my absolute surprise when I turned around, it was a FIFA referee! I was open-mouthed for a second or so – it felt much longer – before I greeted him and we had a brief chat.
The games went well and was a gut-check to make sure my man management skills were intact after being inactive for so long.
I definitely got the test the next day in the evening when I had three intramural games with a few players that were short-tempered. It took some degree of man management and hopefully, charm. The teams left without complaints. One player, after a reckless challenge and being shown a yellow card even started by saying “Can I ask you a question ref?” “Is this quick and relevant?” “I just want to say I am a ref so…” “No! Not relevant then.” and he conceded before I finished administering the wall for the ceremonial free kick. Too often this is the prelude in what is assumed to be credible advice or feedback. It obviously wasn’t relevant and the player apologised later as he stepped to take his kick in KFPM.
The weather wasn’t very very cold but the wind chill just took it to another level leaving my head frozen at the end of the three games. I had layered with a cotton light blue shirt, an adidas training shirt (the light ones for warm-up) and my adidas 2010 cyan long-sleeve along with my shorts and undershorts leaving only my knee and neck/head exposed to the wind blast. I did see one player wearing just a shirt and shorts. Somehow he survived the night but gloves were definitely needed for everyone. I see the weather head into a brief warm spell (relatively speaking) leading into my final outdoor games of the season in 6 days.
Sunday evening was some turf Futsal. A different experience in a different league but with some familiar officials. I got out of the house before sundown.
A great view just outside the complex but the photo doesn’t do justice to the temperature.
There were several interesting moments throughout the night. One of which was a free kick near the penalty area on my near side where upon administering the wall for the DFK, the goalkeeper was yelling at his teammates, in all seriousness, for five players in the wall. His substitute teammates burst out laughing because there were only five on the pitch including the goalkeeper himself! That’s Futsal! Lots of lightening speed Futsal otherwise with some rocket shots and what appeared to be a ball-magnet goalpost as the familiar ‘thunk’ echoed throughout the night more than I’ve ever seen before.
I think that it’s hard to referee without loving the game. Being a referee is just one way of being part of the game we love and there are so many other different avenues. I chanced upon the following video from SSC Napoli’s stadium announcer’s YouTube page.
Definitely an awesome job to have.
Now leading into a very busy mid-week for work and a Futsal referee meeting to host later today.