Swamped doesn’t even begin to describe the week I had. The worst part is that an identical week is coming at the end of October. It’s a storm that’s hard to prepare for. It’s a busy term.
Monday and Tuesday were football days but playing. It’s a good change and playing at a higher division level sometimes shows some of the deficiencies I have while playing.
We were playing a very evenly-skilled team so it was a difficult match. The score went up evenly. In the last minute, we won a penalty while it was a draw. The ball was put in the back of the net and we needed to defend for the last minute. As fate would have it, we were pressed hard and off a corner kick, I stood at the front post. The ball was played in and kicked out. It landed at the feet of an attacker 6 yards away. I rushed out to close the angle being the closest defender. He shot and it deflected back to him off another defender but the angle made my position useless. It was slotted where I would have been standing. Football has it’s own justice somehow. Exciting end to a game but disappointing too.
I got away with a high kick as an attacker got around me and the ball was at shoulder height. It didn’t make contact but I was able to clear the ball a bit dangerously. There was minimal reaction to the challenge.
On the second goal, I was the last defender and the goalkeeper was beaten. I tried to clear the ball off the line but an attacker appeared out of nowhere. Instead, I accidentally stepped hard on his ankle and we all crashed into the goal along with the ball. I helped him up and apologised but was rather annoyed I hadn’t gotten to the ball first.
A fairly one-sided game in our favour as we were quite dominant throughout the game but it took until the end of the first half before we scored the first goal.
Towards the end of our game, which was fairly easy, one of my teammates was fouled up front in the penalty area. The final whistle went at the time instead and there wasn’t much argument with that since the score was fairly decisive 4-0.
Some players just have bad tempers. I don’t know what it is but they are different people on the football pitch. My teammate reacted angrily and confronted the opponent. As they were chest-to-chest, the referee instinct in me kicked in and I started running. I couldn’t help it. It’s a mechanic. There was a small push and another opponent came in to pull her teammate back. I got there and pushed my teammate back too so that it cooled off. Felt much easier than normal because ordinarily I wouldn’t be allowed or be able to get away with that physicality as a referee. Meanwhile, the referee was standing 15 yards away watching. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do the same on a small confrontation and hope to avoid any sort of retaliation or escalation.
I worked mid-day to get a refresher clinic presentation done. I presented a Futsal refresher clinic as I did last year. This year I was prepared with the video content from my work earlier this Winter. The audience was much more receptive as a result to these explanations and it was far easier to understand as a result. Much less work and explanation on my part this time. It had worked quite well to explain what was going on.
It was a good pilot of my content and a 30 minute session which included follow-up questions that I answered based on popular request and match incidents.
Some of the players looked quite annoyed/fed-up that they had to sit through the sessions so I was able to pick on them one by one.
This was a super exciting weekend. A lot of travel was involved and I was heading to the same city both days. I knew I would regret it in the end because it was a time-killer and my workload needed time but I needed a break. This was my escape from the computer screen and at times, this blog!
Was picked up at home just before 2pm and headed off to the field. The ride was smooth because we arrived at the field two hours before kick-off! A previous team was playing in the timeslot so we watched a bit before my co-AR felt cold. It was a chilly day. Only thing that would make up for it? A fantastic football match.
We moved between the field back and forth thrice since it was too cold to be outside but we were worried when nobody was arriving at the field ever closer to game time. Eventually the referee and assessor arrived along with the teams.
The first game was rather uneventful on the field. It was far more challenging in terms of bench management as team officials from the home team were contesting every call. At half time, I let the referee know who gave a warning appropriately. Soon after in the second half, they were dismissed. Fairly uneventful otherwise.
To my surprise, the next game was being assessed as well. This was the fastest game I had witnessed in my career. I was AR2 for the first time in 2 months. Here’s how the match went.
It was so tight going back and forth erupting in celebrations all the time.
I was frequently caught behind the second last defender but was always in position to make the appropriate decision. The game was fast-paced and I found myself with 25-30 burst sprints down the entire length of the touchline. The referee’s work rate and style were however, quite impressive. I enjoyed watching him make decisions deftly and pro-actively dealing with dissent that the game was more entertainment for me than it normally would be. This was no doubt a hard game. Fast-paced meant high tempo and any wrong decision could lead to a high temperature and match control being lost but it was firmly in hand.
At the end of the game, I gave him a free Refsworld wallet because I had enjoyed watching his performance so much.
The winning goal was on my side of the field. The scorer swung around and his entire team rushed to meet him. He was only a few yards away from me and I almost didn’t know what to do since I had completed my run down the touchline. I didn’t want to get too close so I kept my distance but I kept my eye on if the celebrations became excessive. He did the prancing bird celebration which reminded me exactly of how it’s done in the video game.
Throughout the game, the Womens team from the first game stayed behind to support. Oddly enough they were supporting me too. A series of offside decisions against their opposition led to them beginning to cheer me. When I had a few decisions going the other way in the second half, they seemed disappointed but kept cheering. Well that was new…
I got back home later that night in awe. I had witnessed one of the best matches ever. I could still feel the emotional high of the game on the entire ride back home.
Top spot game and I left home at 12:30pm to travel to the south of the twin cities. The bus ride was a lot quicker than I expected to have travelled that amount of distance. 1:15pm I met the referee and we carpooled together. We picked up our third member on the way and were off together to the stadium. This was longer travel than I was used to. More or less the same destination as yesterday but not a regular occurrence appointment.
1st vs 2nd place in the mens division. The stadium was awe-inspiring. I was loving every moment of visiting the facilities with full-fledged changing rooms, the spectator area and the tunnel. It was a different type of game although having done several games in the same league and division before.
We called the players out of the changing rooms and they lined up in the tunnel. After a quick equipment check, we walked up the steps onto the pitch. It was a cool and bright day. Both coaches of either teams were known to be vocal figures in their technical areas so I got to exercise my AR1 muscles and this was a big test. After the walk-out, I noticed the league assignor up at the top level of the stadium watching from behind a window. It was a big game after all.
Early in the game, there was a criss-cross in signals on a touchline decision on my end but it was quickly corrected and a fleeting memory in the game. Also it cleared some early nerves and there was very little complaint. I think this was mostly because the referee deftly managed it.
There was a run down the touchline in the first half. The attacker was moving from the centre of the field towards the touchline, he curved his run and kept the ball in play by a whisker. There were yells for appeal and two seconds later, I felt the atmosphere lift. It had gone from simple possession to an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The goalkeeper had come out but misjudged. Goal. It had happened so fast after the touchline decision that I was a bit startled.
Getting players out of the changing rooms for the second half was a challenge as well and a lesson to learn from for the future; not that many of these games come around! It was a very long day. Almost 8 hours dedicated to the game. I wished I was on a work schedule where weekend time wasn’t as important but with studies, it’s a different issue.
It was a crazy fun weekend.
Half my learning in refereeing has been observational learning. It’s a skill to notice how referees above my level are doing and to pick out things that are common to them and different to the current level. I then have to strategically figure out how to get there by doing that.