I received some motivation in Week 26 to work harder on my local RA initiatives since I was a representative from the younger group of referees. The referees in the past generation had taken charge when they were moving up through the ranks always having the young injection of enthusiasm so I sat down to look at other RAs and what was successful for them and what could be replicated for our own. I spent a lot of time working on some documents and packages including an initiative list to get things rolling and moving forward. Let’s see how that goes.
Looking back to Game #4, I had chatted with a fellow official who asked me a simple question.
So, when you’re an Assistant Referee, what do you want to see in a Referee?
Here was my thoughts:
- Teamwork with ARs
- Appreciation of AR’s help
- High work rate for the game including humble attitude
- Match control and personality to learn something from their style
I pondered that carefully and I was told to replicate the same in my own game! “Was that all it took?” I thought.
Fitness & Training
The fitness preparation and training through the off-season has certainly helped. With the level of games having gone up last year and physical demands, it was an adjustment but I found that with off-season training, I have had little trouble between games and less during games e.g. pulled/tough muscles from extended running. The running that I do in every game and with a good post-match stretching routine, recovery is well-managed this season than in the last. Still. I feel that I have a bigger hurdle to cover. The S-diagonal is quite tiring to maintain in the game to have a panoramic view of the game and I often feel the physical effects when I attempt to implement this in my games. Got to train harder to overcome this. I don’t think I am very far from hitting my fitness goals. Now when I mention fitness goals, I don’t mean trying to pass the fitness test. I can comfortably pass the one at my level and perhaps even pass the one at the next level but I mean to meet the physical demands on the field and enough so that fatigue doesn’t affect me in the dying moments of a game when crucial decisions and mistakes can occur.
Slow start to both weeks really at the start. It really was a recovery from the previous week and the weekend which I welcomed. Also the adjustment of fasting because of Ramadan is a challenge. The first few days without refereeing was a welcome start. My recovery routine has become of utmost importance this month because between fatigue and hydration, I had to be careful not to hurt my health or get injured either. Neither did I want to under-perform and use fasting as an excuse so everything required careful planning. Intricate planning for the next 30 days onwards. The first game of the week was a referee appointment in the adjacent town. I met up with an official and we carpooled together to the field only 15 minutes away. Upon arriving at the field, there was some discussion and worry that the power had just recently gone out in the area meaning that the floodlights may not switch in towards the end of the first half when it would be too dim to play. Pre-match preparations resumed regardless and they did eventually switch on. A quick equipment check as is a must to make sure the players weren’t wearing any jewellery and I decided to pull out the Ervocom flags for a change. I needed to get better accustomed to it and to avoid missing flags while wearing it sometimes because of the absence of the beep (either AR not pressing properly or not pressing at all).
The next day I had a double-header appointment with a very familiar set of officials. Two adjacent fields and all six referees were familiar including a professional referee too who was a familiar face. We cracked a lot of jokes and had a lot of fun pre-match before getting to the field. The games went smoothly and it was an interesting day. I was still working with building rapport with benches and players so I thought I had a successful game as an assistant however the night was far from over.
We travelled to the next field right after and I had a challenging game. Challenging perhaps because I didn’t expect the competition from the teams to be so high including their work rate so much so that I would have mistaken it, while watching, easily for a competitive game and not a recreational game. Being slightly caught off-guard at the beginning, my work rate had to go through the roof to make sure I was applying the Laws of the Game fully and properly. I had a series of tough decisions to make from the start including a few tactical fouls and decisions that I hesitated to make. I felt it caused some frustration with the players but things soon settled. At half-time I had a brief chat with my ARs how things went and went into the second half with the determination that I would have a strong grip and control of the game from then on. Just as I blew the whistle for kick-off, I realised that the wrong team kicked-off! I felt it was as much my fault as it was their fault for not realising they had kicked-off the first half but it was quickly corrected and my game went much smoother. It was a highly competitive match because from 0-2 down, the home team came back to win 3-2. I had added three injury time to the match as allowance for time lost but to my surprise, the floodlights shut off at the 90th minute! It was a crucial time in the game but there was nothing I could do but abandon the game and file a report with the relevant authorities to take further action, if any. It was certainly an interesting day and lesson to learn that I couldn’t ever take a game lightly and always had to be on my toes. It was also a disappointing ending.
The next day was a competitive youth line for a colleague looking to move to the next level. I felt fatigued because of fasting but I felt my mental alertness and awareness heightened during the game. I had kept in mind that some of the competencies of an official at the higher level was to always maintain concentration on the game even when there was little happening and was pleased that I was able to do so. The game went smoothly. I felt like I had good rapport with the bench in terms of communication: When the bench looked to me for an incident I had missed, I told them honestly that I had only seen the aftermath of the fall and not the prelude to it. They accepted it happy that I hadn’t discounted it as a no-foul but this was a sign for me to increase my work rate. During a substitution, I took a quick swig of Gatorade on the touchline having ducked behind the player so it wouldn’t be very noticeable (I was breaking my fast right at sunset) and so that I would have more energy to get through and the referee saw it and I saw him silently chuckle in the middle of the field as he looked on. The assignor had come to watch the game and I was ecstatic to find that he had managed to delve into his stuff to find some old RA material for me to use in my write up about the history on the RA website. Old but gold!
A few assignors raised their eyebrows when I had to explain I had provided my commitment for these set of games earlier and it was a nice change doing Futsal amidst all the football even if the weather was beautiful and windy outside.
Some of the players were pleased to see me. I was in charge of the league only a few months ago and the league, still developing, had young referees so they were happy to see me back albeit for a short time. Funnily enough they complained about officiating before but not anymore since I returned! The first game was quite competitive requiring full concentration and management but the score was fairly decisive. The remaining two games followed a similar pattern but this time due to less personnel. The last game was a forfeit due to a lack of players. I managed to get my last few photos in for my Futsal education page on this website and also update a bit of content given the new release/amendments to the FIFA Futsal Laws of the Game that will affect game play at all levels. It’s the longest document of amendments I have seen to-date! It’s been 2-3 years in the making now.
Wednesday was my first local Mens league middle of the season and I was looking forward to it given it was mid-season already. It was an out-of-town match so we met together before driving down. I was working with a familiar crew of officials. The game was soon under way and from memory it was well-behaved overall but the recurring reflection of unpunished or perhaps could-have-been-better-managed dissent still lingered.
A youth line a couple days later and the feedback my AR gave me was that I ran like a gazelle because the size/length of my running stride was quite wide. The game went well.
Another suit-up match but it was a little different this time. It was a higher competition level so I was prepared. The national anthems played and it was a high-stakes game because points mattered for the end of season finish. It was quite an experience but I have to say the biggest thing was the influence of spectators (fans). I was subjected to far less but the singing, chanting and jeering was something more to watch as they were directing it at play, the referee and the near side AR. Wondering how it will affect me when the time comes. So far I have been taking it in smile.
I managed to sell my UEFA Champions League 2010 kit that had been sitting in my closet forever unused since it was an odd colour and unmatchable. A new referee wanted the investment for solo games so I passed it on for less than half the original price. Lost a lot of money on it but better someone using it than sitting in my closet unused.
An assessment game for a colleague capped off the week. Unfortunately enough, it was scheduled right during the finale of the World Cup final when I was set to assist him. I had the car rental booked for just after the 90 minute-mark and was hoping that was all the match would need. There was definitely some drama to it and I nervously had to leave home and the monitor hoping I wouldn’t miss anything big when it progressed to extra time. Once I was in the car, I started the GPS on my phone and switched on the game as well to hear the commentary. I was 80% through my journey when I heard the commentator yell about Mario Gotze’s goal and I had my own solo celebration during the drive!
Germany had finally done it after all those years!
I arrived at the field to find the rest of the crew outside the field area since the gates were locked. They were hanging out in the car listening to the radio commentary of what had happened and I pulled out my phone so we could all watch the finale to the final whistle on the small screen.
Satisfied with how the match had ended, the game was the next focus. The assessor was a familiar face and listened to our pre-game. The game was soon underway but it didn’t feel fast at all. The away team had only arrived with 7 players so it was of interest how this may affect the match. There was minimal decision-making to be done from my side other than an offside call and chasing the ball to the goal line/goalkeeper in general whenever it was in the defensive half but the match was abandoned for an injury early in the second half leading to a short debrief after the game.
Fairly busy two weeks all-in-all with 50km coverage just this week.