I think this past week has to be the busiest week of all time for refereeing off the field/court. Considering that I hardly officiated, it makes it all the more odd that I was this intensely busy.
I expect this to perhaps be one of the longest posts I have ever written; hence the long delay in getting it up.
How about this pic from Refsworld. Looks like he’s really taking a poke at us! I had a good chuckle off this one. I mean HAHA. It may well be the case given the Day After Tomorrow-like weather we had in Week 2. On the bright side of that, only our winter jackets, gloves and scarves would have to match to ref!
Then again players could start defending the goal by building walls of snow. Forget walls for free kicks. Unsporting behaviour? Would throwing a snowball at someone be violent conduct? A dropped ball for throwing it at the ball? DFK for deliberately handling? Lots of exciting possibilities in snow football. If you were in the Arctic, would ice picks be legal equipment?
The week started from a new referee orientation. Being the co-ordinator of refereeing for all sports, it has helped me open up some perspective to various other sports and how they function. An eye-opener to refereeing beyond football (and futsal). I helped referees understand the importance of the basic expectations and qualities looked for from a referee.
Instructing came early in the week and along with it came the time we were waiting for for a long time; the referee clinic. I had worked on the lesson plan a month and a half ago and wanted to execute it to perfection. Unfortunately I couldn’t get all refs to have the chance to ref due to timing constraints but we covered FIFA Futuro exercises in carding mechanics as well as concentration and awareness technique. The more experienced referees ran the FIFA Futsal speed and agility tests trying to meet the International standard. They performed quite well. Here’s one of my refs trying it out.
The classroom session was compressed into one hour and we covered quick differences between Futsal and its indoor counterpart. The practical ensued and ran for almost 2.5 hours. The refs enjoyed the various exercises and scrimmage as we tried to minimise lecturing as much as we could.
We also took a referee roster photo which I realised before would be a great idea. We were refereeing term after term but no memories to keep later. It was also a method of showcasing the power of football refereeing in the league.
Tuesday involved following an education session online after class sitting in an empty hallway on the floor with my laptop charger plugged into the opposite wall to keep my battery alive. Some Laws of the Game testing to keep things fresh. It’s been a while since I’ve really exercised my brain on the overall material. I consider myself decently sharp still.
I helped a colleague, Convenor, of mine conduct the Futsal Captains meeting which was as always an interesting task. We limited our information to promotional and critical information. I played my favourite “What is futsal?” video from the UEFA Training Ground. I love the music.
A short rules presentation followed with some good questions from captains on the various nuances behind accumulated fouls, time-outs and the stringent goalkeeper rules. This was no ordinary Indoor Soccer variant. This. Is. Futsal.
The game scheduling and resolving time conflicts after that and we attempted to fix all the issues efficiently. We finished an hour later to keep 88 captains happy! Unfortunately it’s a process we need to scrutinise more in order to make more efficient.
This was far from over because my responsibilities kicked in as the Referee-In-Chief for the league with having to find referees for the opening match day in less than 24 hours. Having a referee roster over 25 referees, it gave me a large pool of selection to pick from but e-mail was too slow so I used facebook along with a few quick phone calls of my returners. I also proceeded in the next few days to schedule the games for the next two weeks. It’s nice to get the perspective of a referee scheduler in a large league because you understand the psyche of a scheduler when you are on the receiving end (the ref!).
Several e-mails followed to prep the referees. I also marked pre-requisite exams. A good stack of 23 exams on basic Fouls & Misconduct testing for Futsal. A very large number of them did well and had no trouble as they were directly quoted from the Laws. I had an attendance list to review as well as some fitness stats to go over.
The opening game day was interesting. I arrived early to fully re-stock the gamebags and make sure it was ready for over 300+ games of Futsal action in the coming three months.
Something new in the league that I had requested were sandbags to anchor the nets. Finally! Some safety measures to keep the players safe. The nets had tipped over once the term before because a goalkeeper used it to haul himself off the ground. The falling net narrowly missed him but gave all of us a scare. I requested it immediately after the incident.
I sat to assess the first set of referees and spoke to captains and players to help them better understand the game. My main points were about enhancing player-ref communication which I feel is one of the biggest man management tools a referee can have in his/her arsenal.
On a side note, sometimes I wonder if a Laws of the Game course should be offered at the university. I would totally want to sign up to instruct that! Not that I’m already spending a lot of time on ref training. Would be cool to pursue a PhD in the Laws of the Game.
My Garmin 610 arrived in the mail! Finally something to monitor training and to get some cool stats from. This was my Christmas shopping.
Here’s my 14 year old G-Shock alongside my new Garmin (pictured left).
It’s pretty cool but a bit finicky to figure out. Not as intuitive as I had hoped but time will tell how easy it is to handle. I finally managed to have it connect to a satellite outdoors. It doesn’t connect indoors! 😦
The heart rate monitor works fine although the electrodes need to be wet every time it is used so that it can collect info properly. Wearing it at first was fine but I felt it was uncomfortable and was difficult to breathe deeply with my diaphragm (recommended technique for deep breaths and controlled breathing). It’s something I need to get used to.
I’ve also started wearing both of the above watches. Wearing a watch on my left hand has always been uncomfortable so to most people’s surprise, I wear it on my right. Now that I have two and wearing on both arms is recommended, I am trying to wear both around more off-the-field so that my comfort level adjusts and so that it is easier during games. Do players realise the things we do off-the-field?
The stats that the watch generates is nice info to play around with. Here is my Garmin page. No info up yet but there will be within a week.
Besides that, more stuff in the mail!
Later that day, I was set to run my fourth ref meeting of the week; instructing a session on Simulation.
I had spent a very long time trying to sort out the material since a lot of it was, frankly, made up. Not too much of it existed so it was brain work on the basic ideology behind this egregious offence happening in the game today. Plenty of time searching clips since I reviewed dozens and dozens of matches and kept my ears open from colleagues on any recent events to edit and clip them out.
My total audience was just over twenty people and my material sparked plenty of discussion and debate when we got to the video clip portion. Everyone enjoyed that area in particular (lesson learnt for future) so I lost track of time as I went through videos and we got through them all! I think my presentation took just over an hour all-in-all and nobody had visibly dozed off to sleep so a win.
There was again a few lessons in instructing as well as more considerations on the topic brought up by participants that helped broaden views on the matter. The presentation will improve every time I show it.
Saturday finally brought by some playing and refereeing. I joined a team in the league as a part-time goalkeeper and our team had just enough players to field a full team. I knew that my knowledge of the game would help me play optimally as a goalkeeper. My team ended up losing since we were outnumbered in substitutes by the other team and simply did not have the stamina to keep up.
I learnt a few hard lessons as a goalkeeper. It hurts. Diving to the ground on court hurts the knees and elbows. Elbow pads and knee pads to cushion the impact is definitely a great idea for Futsal goalkeepers. I also learnt the hard way that hands need reinforcement. I see a lot more goalkeepers in Futsal not use gloves than those who do. It makes it easier to make grip the ball and deliver goal clearances but the thing I missed out on was tape. Tape on the fingers and wrist make such a difference. I had my wrist wrapped after the game and iced to take some of the sting off.
I also got nailed in the face by the ball just before halftime as I was one-on-one with an attacker. I expected a low shot to the side but a second later my glasses had flown off my face and landed on the court in front of me and I couldn’t see. The game stopped and a few players helped me fix it. I was ready to go for the second half but not feeling too good given what happened. Not too much fun having to ref after that but I managed the trio of shifts I had following with a colleague and things went fine. They certainly weren’t easy games since this was also opening match day for the top division so it was interesting to see the performance and gameplay of all teams. 52 goals, 25 fouls and 2 yellows racked up already! Three 10m mark shots.
Being a goalkeeper is much like being a referee I have noticed. Almost a thankless job and requires a keen want of perfection because there is definitely disappointment when the ball ends up behind you in the back of the net.
Here’s some great advice for Futsal goalkeepers to protect their hands and fingers.
I also gave away some freebie equipment to one of my refs.
After a night of plenty of action and games, I emptied my pockets to see all this!
Here are my second half stats for coverage of the last game of the day.
1.28km of side-stepping, back-pedalling and sprinting. Hardly any walking in Futsal so I’m sure I covered a decent bit overall. Futsal has significant fatigue on the ankles and next on the calves/quadriceps. I’m still recovering from that busy night.
The weather has since then dipped and been freezing cold. -30 range with wind chill and even breathing deeply is hard! Would not be fun running HI outside.
In other news, the wall in front of my desk has turned into a suspension board with sticky notes of activities (discipline) of the top division in the league and summary of match day details so everything can be managed at a glance.
Busy week eh?