Day 1 (Saturday)
This was a morning similar to those early morning runs because I happen to be the most productive the night before. That means I end up staying awake late and paying for it in the morning. I let the hum of a World Cup match replay try to lull me to sleep but I couldn’t get any sleep for some odd reason. Adrenaline I think? Not sure why. Perhaps excitement. It would have been a very productive night if I stayed up even later.
I made sure my bag was packed and I was clean-shaven before I slept so the morning would be minimal work/stress.
2am and up at 6am. I groaned waking up. After a shower and some early morning company, I spent the car ride chatting with fellow referees on the upcoming winter preparation and upgrade year. It was a fairly bland drive with nothing much to look at. Now I was happy I had never drove this way for games.
The session started off covering the expectations for us over the course and then directly into a Laws of the Game video quiz. The video quizzes were never really my strong-suite and the videos were familiar (not completely new) but at the same time the answers weren’t on the top of my head. I scored 13/20.
The IDFK DOGSO scenario came up and I was able to immediately answer this. Intricate part of law.
We covered a variety of topics including:
- Deliberately handling the ball
- Law 11 – Offside and recent amendments
- Dealing with injured players
The sessions were filled with discussion and clips from the Futuro DVDs. There was a short break for lunch. Most of us went to Subway. I hadn’t eaten anything since the morning but I didn’t want to overeat either so I didn’t buy anything big. A good thing too.
The warm-up and cooldown session of the practical was well-conducted and worked quite well.
I was surprised when they told us when we would be running a beep test. It was rather unexpected. We were so focused on training for High Intensity that this seemed a stretch/different type of fitness.
I hadn’t run a beep test for… eight years. The last time I did it I was at a 9.2. There was a lot to prove because I have been trying to train regularly. It would have been an embarrassment if I was caught falling behind someone who wasn’t. I challenged a fellow referee to see who could get the furthest. Little did I know what was to come.
Just before the test kicked off at one end of the line with 20m cones, I quickly scanned around to look for the best spot. Group running always helps and I soon found myself with referees from the local area in the nick of time.
BEEP. We’re off. We started on a fast pace because we hit the cone several seconds early. I quickly noticed one of my colleagues lagging behind. I looked over and after making eye contact, realised that he was at a comfortable pace. He knew exactly what he was doing. I quickly understood that this was far from his first time doing it so I slowed down as well and knew what I needed to do. I found the rabbit. The person that knows the pace to a tee.
We lagged back for a while. I was focusing on my heart rate. I was a little annoyed I didn’t have time to strap on my Garmin. Level 2.5. I could feel my heart working. Not working hard but working. I wasn’t sure what kind of effort it took to replicate my last score anymore. Everyone was fine. Level 4. Level 5… One person dropped out.
Everyone else seemed fine. Then that level came. I can’t remember what it was but must have been somewhere from 5 to 7 where the group size halved. 8 people walked off. Now it was left with the younger members of the group. Level 7. I could feel myself feeling sluggish. People were fading away out of the test fairly quickly and it seemed more out of exhaustion rather than being disqualified. At one point, there were three people left including me. One of them were on the far-side and the other one beside me. Then it was just me and the guy on the far side and it must have been after 8.5.
There were colleagues on the touchline encouraging me on. I could keep going. There was not much of a problem but the sluggish feeling started pushing to the forefront of my mind. I pushed all my energy into the last few steps of each shuttle. Energy level was low and I had drank very little that day so I could feel my mouth being parched. I was trying to get my body to move but my legs weren’t responding as well as I would have liked them to. Level 9. At this point, I was almost jumping to land on the line with one foot to get there in time. Hitting the brakes felt like it would take more energy than it would this way. The energy I needed to kickstart again though felt colossal and was the hardest part of the test at this point.
I faulted. I was a yard from the line. The voice announced Level 9.5. I toed the line, turned and gave it everything on the way back. I made it but it came with a cost. One more shuttle later and I didn’t want to go any further. I had no clue how the person on the other side was faring. I turned and walked to the side of the pitch after the shuttle for my recovery. It was a good few minutes before I felt somewhat normal again.
The other person was still going! Level 13… At this point I was relieved I gave up and didn’t try to keep going to compete. I would have never lasted that long. Level 14 and they just ended the test for fear he may be able to continue until the end.
Later, I found out he was a National-level runner so I didn’t feel as bad. I was nowhere near that calibre. It was a good competition and I use that word loosely. When you give it your all, you can’t help but respect your opponent. I congratulated him when it ended.
We got changed and went to the field that was part of the facility for the next part.
This was the most fun exercise of the weekend as we worked on body language and concentration. I was sure this was a Futuro exercise. We proceeded to practice signalling while being evaluated, while keeping track of many other details. We moved from milestone to milestone.
One of my colleagues who had read my Penalty Body Language post on Nishimura demonstrated a PK call in the same manner. I roared with laughter as I watched. It was quite entertaining to watch although he may have to work to get the same cautioning mechanic as the Japanese referee did. Almost ninja-like.
The second exercise was testing the referee’s knowledge of penalty kick infringements. We discussed a lot of scenarios beforehand, played them out and then discussed after. To my surprise, this was the first point I realised that the instructors were taking a consistent approach during the weekend.
Most questions (unless highly controversial) were deflected right back to us. This may have been a great way to deal with anyone asking question in an effort to test the instructors. It would just result in them giving their own opinion and things being made awkward by the person asking the question. Reflecting on it, it may have been tactic to foster better study groups. Without access to a senior referee or instructor that can give a final decision, most referees present and defend their view point with each other until there is consensus. Maybe… Nevertheless I did ask the instructors well after about certain scenarios.
The referees from my area met together to go for dinner and enjoy some social time together. It wasn’t often that we all met together and had an opportunity to do so like this so it was good fun although it was after an exhausting day.
I half-passed out on the drive back in the back seat and woke up when we were back home.
Day 2 (Sunday)
Another early morning start but I was marginally more prepared for it but still didn’t sleep early.
We arrived early and I had time to take a few photos around and grab a quick snack for breakfast.
- Dealing with Dissent
- Persistent Infringement
- Severity of Fouls
Some of the sessions were based on presentations so I grabbed my referee notebook and picked up where the last upgrade clinic left off. I think I was one of two referees that were noting things down. The presentation speed was slightly too fast to be taking notes but a little slow for listening pace since it seemed to drag on. Didn’t help matters that I was a slow writer so I furiously tried to keep up and capture what was on the slides and remember the points on the top of my head. I managed to get a decent amount down; at least the important details.
The positioning and severity of fouls topics were done on the Futuro DVD. We practiced selecting the ideal position. Everyone as a group was fairly consistent on where they would like to be. Then there was a video that I particularly liked.
The vast majority of players were in the centre of the field. The ball was in an attacking movement on the outside of the centre circle on the left side. We had to choose a spot on the grid. From personal experience I felt that even though the left wing was a good position to see what was going on, it typically resulted in the attacker moving deeper into the wing where there is space. There weren’t many attackers up front to help in particular. Running on the left wing then meant having to slow down as the player ran across the patrol path. For that reason I picked the defending side of the centre circle to run right through. That way I would be able to move forward steadily with a good view and still be able to manoeuvre depending on the attacker’s forward movement. It turns out I wasn’t very far from the answer.
The next group exercises resulted in a group of four where we went to a designated part of the floor and discussed clips and their severity. We had to order them and classify them as CRE (careless/reckless/excessive). It was a good discussion. Quite tough also but we did pretty well only missing the order of two videos.
I still need to sit down and practice these DVDs again at some point…
Today’s practical exercises were focused on Assistant referee techniques. None were new having experienced them a few years ago during winter training. After the practicals, in the changing room, I had a sudden interest in referee equipment and offloaded a couple of organisers.
At the end of the clinic, I found that someone had left their Refsworld organiser behind. I didn’t think it was one of the ones I sold but kept it for safe-keeping. I contacted and found the owner after a blast e-mail later that night.
It was a tiring weekend with no time to do anything else but it was a lot of fun.