Here’s an awesome greeting I received for my birthday.
Already received and had my first set of appointments here.
I was looking forward to the first set having touch-based with the league assignor for Mens 7v7.
It was nice meeting a fully new crew of people running the league with different backgrounds.
The first game was played between a set of English teams. This was English football because when the game kicked-off, I didn’t have many decisions to make very quickly but then the challenges started coming in. Soon I was calling fouls but the teams weren’t taking kindly to my perceived lower foul threshold. Almost every decision was contested by either of the teams and sometimes both. Some players disliked this more than others.
An interesting lesson in football culturally.
During one of the plays, a player challenged the defender for the ball through a slide-tackle. The challenge was fair but unfortunately for him, slide-tackles aren’t permitted by the competition rules. As he stood up and turned around after my whistle, he shrugged and sympathetically asked, “Come on ref, I slipped”. I smiled and replied “So did my whistle”! The defending goalkeeper setting up for the free kick had a chuckle off of that.
The rest of the games became much smoother. I exercised all my cultural knowledge to speak to the ethnic teams playing and leveraged it for match control. It was a lot of fun and I did not expect the amount of mental drainage that the humidity had on me. I had carefully read that hydration was important even if I didn’t feel thirsty because heat exhaustion could happen out of nowhere. One bottle of water and extra large Gatorade later, I wasn’t too well hydrated so I knew to pack more for next time.
I had done plenty of running and it was nice to break out my umbro kit for the first time. Both shirts including my warm-up jersey were absolutely drenched in sweat. It was also interesting since my watch would vibrate every time I had run a kilometre so I would be notified of the km milestones.
The assignor thought I did a good job at the end of the night having watched my first difficult game which is a good sign. It was quite funny when he commented mentioning the make-up of players in the league and my Canadian accent!
The next set of games were at the end of week and I needed the week to recover from my running.
Tournament end of week on a Friday morning. Warm wouldn’t even begin to describe the weather. I ma have been complaining about cold weather for the past 8 months on this blog but I guess I got the other extreme on the weekend here. Friday was fairly uneventful in a World Cup Mens 5v5 tournament. It was warm and I definitely needed hydration again. There wasn’t a very large area to cover for the game but I continuously changed position to strive to get better angles on every play. It both helped and hindered at times but definitely helped me gain credibility.
The most recent couple of games was on Saturday and again an early morning KO. The first game was a full-field Youth Premier League friendly between two teams on the final matchday of the league. The game was fairly quiet in match control and decisions as both sides had come to play football and the match ended 6-0 to the away team.
I think I can safely say that this was the hottest weather I have refereed in with the temperature at 45 degrees Celsius. My sunscreen had evaporated and skin turned slightly red (or maybe it was my vision!). The shade and changing rooms were a relief at half-time to cool down and replenish. I poured water all over my exposed skin to simulate sweating. For some reason I wasn’t sweating that much and it felt like sitting under a magnifying glass heating up. Both teams had a water break through the halves but I didn’t have the same luxury while facilitating the game and since my drinks were far away in the shade. I’m definitely not refereeing at this same time of day again here!
The second match was far more interesting because it was the league plate final. I didn’t have to wait very long because there was a goal in the third minute. It came from a corner kick from a header that ricocheted down and up off the crossbar but conclusively went in off a defender to save me any controversy. There were three more goals that followed almost once every six minutes and only one caution in the second half for a tactical foul. This was on the cusp of being a DOGSO but the attacker was running away from goal. Had he beat the defender, he may have had time to turn to face goal. I practiced my card displaying technique with isolate-display-take name and feel I still need experimenting with scenarios to see where it works best.
Another strange aspect I had trouble communicating with were for pacing the 10 yards (required distance). It took me two attempts on a few free kicks to clearly communicate with the kicker on whether he wanted the distance to be enforced (ceremonial). It appeared as though they didn’t understand when I was asking. Maybe it only works on Canadian players because it’s been fine up until now.
My cooldown was literally cooling my body down. Any more time in the sun and I was sure I would evaporate. I downed all the bottles of Gatorade and water I had and then sat under the shade. I felt a slight muscle pull after the cooldown so needed to stretch once I had got home.
Went swimming earlier today to help smoothen recovery and keep active. Can’t say it was as convenient to do before with all the igloos and ice around.
The next eight months are more clear. I’m on the way back to Canada soon. Looks like I will be fully active this summer alongside work!