It’s hard to say goodbye sometimes. This was by no means an exception. My last game in the league I started only a year ago. I couldn’t help but be nervous. I had strategically looked at things I needed to work on from reflections on my Futsal officiating and wanted to ensure the little details were handled as best as possible.
The match’s pre-game schedule was planned to a tee. Uniforms and colours were all communicated two days before. The pre-game included a walk-out, squad photos and then finally on to the coin toss. I accomplished a difficult feat; managed to get the coin to land on its side and then roll across half the court through a multitude of players. I ended up re-taking it but more embarrassingly, a face-palm moment since my co-ref pointed out that it had been caught on footage.
Overall, I felt the match was one of the best Futsal officiating performances I’ve had in a long time. The decisions never detracted from the play and the focus was always on the players and the game. On a side note, the senior referees in the league have been catching me off-guard more recently with their knowledge of the positioning system which was rather pleasing. It meant the development was and had gone far!
Watching the footage again was slightly embarrassing. It was a well-managed game but it was hard to watch some scenarios, for example, where I missed a deflection. Unfortunately the Futsal referee positioning system has its flaws I think.
Diagram of the scenario depicted below where I am Referee 1 (yellow on the bench-side touchline).
From my personal style, I prefer standing a little further back than the SLD so I can keep an eye on him as well. It gives me the full view of the court and sometimes builds/gives me the angle I am looking for on play. Panoramic view. Didn’t help in this scenario.
The blue attacker ran forward off a ball flicked in the air from a tackle. The ball sailed at chest height for a few brief seconds and touched his chest with a slight touch. Unfortunately there was no trajectory change so I was unable to tell if there was a touch at all. I awarded an attacking kick-in. The attacking team’s body language was weak in accepting the decision but not very obviously so so I didn’t mentally waver. The defending team, however, had an immediate reaction and was upset. More so from the bench who had the best view of anyone in the gym. I managed to sell it and they calmed down quickly being a well-behaved team in general which made for easier game management.
I felt sheepish watching the footage again and watching the clearly incorrect decision unfold. It’s embarrassing so I can hardly imagine watching an entire game’s worth on film.
Sometime mid-way through the second half, the away team was trailing by a goal. An away team attacker was in the opposing penalty area. As he moved forward, he was carelessly tripped by the goalkeeper in the penalty area. He stumbled. The ball was still ahead of him. This was a sixth foul. Sixth. I waited…
He managed to regain his balance and kick the ball into the back of the net. The players celebrated but then turned to look over to me perhaps expecting additional punishment/action. I indicated that we allowed the advantage and a goal was scored. A rare, obvious goal-scoring opportunity advantage on a sixth foul.
Another interesting incident was when the home team started a counter-attack from their goalkeeper’s save. They had the numbers forward as they charged into the attacking half. I chased after as the trail referee and an away team defender slid to gain possession of the ball. He missed. The attacker jumped over him and passed to his teammate. Advantage! Shot. Opposing goalkeeper saved. Uproar from the attacking team who wanted punishment for the slide-tackle. I indicated advantage.
There was little time to react because another counter-attack had been launched. This time, the home team was really caught off-guard and the last home team defender blocked off his opponent by moving into his way. This knocked him off his path and broke up the attack. A had a medium blast whistle and walked over to the other side of the court and displayed the caution almost non-chalantly. It was a good caution too since he had been warned for persistent infringement with a private word and public warning earlier. There was still significant distance to goal in the opposing half and lacked the full direction so it wasn’t quite DOGSO yet. No arguments at all.
The game ended in a draw meaning one thing for the final. Kicks from the Penalty Mark. I worked with my partner to figure out the numbers before we realised we didn’t need to Reduce to Equate; it was 8v8. There was another coin toss to do. This time I planned to catch the coin. Imagine my luck when the coin landed and got caught between my fingers. Both captains exclaimed with delight and a bit of a teasing that they both won the toss since they could see the respective sides they chose. I kept a mental note to delegate coin tosses for the future and re-took it again quickly. The home team won and decided to take the first kick.
My partner and I proceeded to the net furthest from the spectating window so there was as little interference as possible. I briefed the goalkeepers on what they were and weren’t permitted to do (movement, positioning during kicks and while teammates were kicking). It was a bit of a lesson after my prior outdoor game. The kicks ensued with plenty of drama (goals & misses) and with the home team winning. One of the away team players rushed over after we declared the game over. He was convinced we had miscounted but we confirmed it was over. It was sad watching him walk away as he hung his head in disappointment. Such is the game of Futsal.
The league looks to be in good hands as my co-ref, Referee 2, will be taking over my position for the future.
It was over. Won’t be doing Futsal for some time now. I’m definitely going to miss the court.