A Refsworld package arrived on Wednesday and I was excited to receive it. It had a few requests from the RA AGM meeting less than a month ago so I could pass off the equipment to other refs before I left.
Wednesday afternoon was running day this week. Jogging outside is a little more interesting because of changing scenery and a clearer mark of how to get back. However, I despise running indoors because it can be very mundane. Luckily the laps slipped by without me noticing and forgetting to clock laps at times with company.
After the run, we ran into another referee who had just arrived at the track for his own training. We had a brief chat before separating. Good to see everyone involved in training soon after football had winded down.
There was more snow mid-week…
but then it melted all over again by the end of the weekend.
Another thing I have been taking a closer look is the assessment system seemingly being adopted around the world. For lack of a better description, I’ll say it’s UEFA’s assessment system. Here are the numbers and what they mean courtesy of The Third Team.
Meanwhile towards the end of the week, a professional referee stopped by to buy a few lanyards off me. Was nice seeing him after a while and chatting with him.
On a side note, I picked up a website project that is somewhat referee-related so that should keep me busy over the holidays and for a while and get me my referee fix.
So apparently my friends have gotten used to me saying I’m going to referee my last game of the year… One phone call later and I was covering a shift on Sunday night. I’m 90% sure these are my last games of the year… Knock on wood?
Early arrival at the field and I was getting some refs to fill out RA paperwork while I could. A fellow referee gave me a ride and I grabbed a few sandwiches to eat on the day. After all, five hours of refereeing in the evening meant I would be super hungry by the end. As the other referees were getting dressed, I snuck into the back room to wolf down a sandwich; one of the other refs would have stolen it if they saw me!
I elected to go for my Valkeen (traditionally my outdoor whistle of choice) as opposed to my regular Futsal Foxes.
I witnessed a bizarre set of events that day amongst other things I had seen in the league. They appear to be related to kick-ins for the most part. Some of which simply included:
- the ball going out of play and being near the touchline whether it stopped right there or bounced back off the wall. The kicker simply ran off the field of play, swung off the touchline and kicked it. This caught me off-guard a lot of the time since I am so used to organised players placing the ball in some shape or form before kicking.
- the kicker taking the kick-in facing away from the field with a backheel. I was so surprised that I completely forgot to check if their foot was on the line or not. In all likelihood it wasn’t but I had been so taken aback by the move that I was too late to react as well. It was a subject of half-time discussion.
In the third match of the night, a player on the home team felt he had been fouled a few yards from me. I hadn’t seen any unfair contact but his reaction after caused an escalation. The ball had gone out of play at this time and I tried to calm it down and inform him that no foul had occurred. He was upset and said the words every referee has surely heard. “Are you f***ing blind?” It was heated at that point and calming both of the players took some effort. By the time things had subsided, it felt out of place and an escalation of the situation to show discipline so using common sense, I elected to take no action. It wasn’t questioned if noticed at all by anyone. In the post-game discussion, it was agreed that it was the appropriate action to take.
Final Futsal Match
Early into the fifth & final match, the ball was on the field of play a few yards from the touchline away from me to my left. An attacking player swung his leg to kick the ball but a defender swooped in and got it first. Too late and it connected; the attacker kicked the defender instead. An unfortunate foul and clearly unintended but nevertheless, it was the action that mattered. I blew the whistle and moved to the spot which was in the opposite direction of the attacking play. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another attacker rocket the ball into the goal. “I’ll deal with that later…” I thought. As I began to explain the the attacker who kicked his opponent why it was just a foul, I heard a confrontation ensue. I turned and further upfield, the goalkeeper had rushed out 8 yards and shoved the attacker. Oh no… It was a strong shove but even worse was that the attacker was in his early teens and the goalkeeper was quite likely triple his age and very muscular.
I abandoned my position and sprinted down field to stop it from escalating further. I got there first and in between and got the goalkeeper back. All of a sudden, I sensed someone behind me. It was an understatement. The entire bench had cleared and was on the field. I continued to move the goalkeeper away until we were finally off the pitch behind the goal line and he was against the wall. I turned and pinned him to the wall with my back. A case of protecting the guilty. My co-ref meanwhile defused the situation and prevented people from getting any nearer (I hadn’t noticed any of this since I was so focused on ensuring there was no more retaliation and escalation).
The angry mob, for lack of a better word, dissipated. They were angry for an understandable reason too. It calmed down and we dealt with separate other verbal scuffles while the goalkeeper remained alone near his goal. A player from the attacking team looked at me with an eyebrow raised expecting some form of disciplinary action. I quickly assured him that we weren’t done with the incident yet. I pulled the goalkeeper aside and explained how his actions had affected the game (especially at such an early stage). He understood his mistake and, of his own accord, walked up field to apologise to the player. He was cautioned. It could quite easily have been red. Was it a wise decision? Did it send the wrong message? I’m not sure. The goalkeeper wasn’t involved in any further incidents in that game after. Thankfully, regardless, the victim’s team didn’t attempt to seek out their own justice after that.
The focus shifted to other players on the team as the home (aforementioned attacking) team were tallying up goals. This created frustration and decisions on fouls created more reactions of annoyance.
There was a foul in midfield that created some tension with the away team. The body language of the fouled player was quite rigid and I reacted immediately after the whistle by trying to get his attention verbally and avoid any confrontation. He replied “I didn’t do anything” looking back at me feeling accused. I responded “I was afraid you would” with a bit of a smile since it was a false alarm. Public honesty? Not sure if that was a good move either.
The celebrations began to become more creative as well and mostly pulled straight out of the FIFA video game, one of which was a player shining the goal scorer’s boot on his knee. I wasn’t sure if it was excessive and despite it being in midfield, it wasn’t the centre of attention so I chose to take no action.
It was a heated game that required a lot of management and overall, I felt my co-ref and I managed it well. Escalations didn’t occur but I still wasn’t satisfied. We had maintained match control but I felt there was a level above that I needed to achieve both in futsal and football. Almost a stronger element of match control where tempers and emotions are restored so that the end of the game is in peace. Something to think on…
Regardless, it was the last set of Futsal games that I may be participating in for a long time to come so I took in the surroundings. On the ride home, a fellow referee remarked that there was a lot of whistle blowing, loud noise and strong voice commands being used on our pitch to keep things in order. He meant it as a compliment. I chuckled.
I got back home exhausted and emptied my pockets.
I wondered when I would be seeing a Futsal court again.