I started early in the week playing some football. Doesn’t happen often but I like to think of it as part of my training.
I joined a pick-up game and felt I had a great game. I came as a substitute to cover any playing time for the regulars that showed up. Ever since I picked up refereeing, I’ve been paying closer attention to player tendencies and styles. It helps me understand the game better, team tactics and even individual tactics. It’s only natural that these habits get adopted on the field when the ball is at your feet. I felt my awareness of the vicinity has expanded a great deal.
As my team was mounting an attack, I anticipated and ran forward. I called out for the ball, it came across from my left as a through ball. I had beaten the defender through speed already and was 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper. There would be no room to dribble. This could only be a first-time shot and the ball was reaching me just near the right post. I looked up as the ball arrived and slotted it in over the goalkeeper’s shoulder. I was rather surprised how coolly it went in.
My second goal arrived in the form of a team goal. The goalkeeper had no chance as every player on the field had a touch of the ball as it moved upfield and I poached just behind the ball when my cousin laid the ball off to me to the side of the goalkeeper and I applied a finesse shot into the empty net. This time I was surprised to receive the pass!
It was time to revisit goal-setting. I had set goals for myself more than 3 years ago for both the short and long-term. They all had become out-dated and to my pleasant surprise, on track. It was time to set more short-term and long-term goals keeping in mind that a move would disrupt things and make the future all the more uncertain.
Since my move happened mid-upgrade in one country, I’ll have to re-attempt after I move in the new refereeing system. There’s a lot to learn or shall I say re-learn?
Weight gain is often associated with a negative aura in refereeing. After all, we need to be fit, agile and mobile. For me on the other hand, I’m looking to change my routine to bulk up and add more muscle. That will be part of a mission for later this year and onwards.
U14B Cup Match
I wanted to increase my weekly activity so the night before the match, I went for a short run with a different route. I ran around the track around the local football pitch, park, cricket pitch and swimming pool. Just what I needed pre-match day.
Game day arrived and I drove to the field this time. I was there more than an hour before kick-off and sat in the car imagining game scenarios I would be dealing with. I was appointed this game through a referral. My high school teacher had referred me to another local school looking for a neutral referee for their Cup match. It was a warm day so I had left the window down and was playing music off my phone. I was feeling restless with the long wait. Perhaps I shouldn’t have arrived so early but it was far less stress than arriving late or rushing through the pre-game.
Have I ever mentioned music is the best thing for warm-ups? Of course I have. I just wanted to say it again. I took my phone along with my Powerade water bottle as I warmed up on the opposite side of the field and played music.
As I winded up my warm-up, the coach on the opposite field said
That’s quite a warm-up. You look knackered…
Now if I hadn’t learnt that word earlier that day.
It was a small pitch being used. Somewhat of a hybrid between a mini and a full-size field. I was surprised since the age group and size of the players could definitely have used a full field.
The away team coach, who had requested me for this game, surprised me by giving me a game fee. All the high school cup matches I was doing was pro-bono. I didn’t expect any different going into any of the games. I looked at it more as though as I was paying my dues. I tried to refuse the fee but he insisted and said that he was considering this game to be a try-out for any future games they had and it was compensation for my time. I graciously accepted. He chuckled saying that it wasn’t meant to be a bribe.
The game started and the away team firmly took the driver’s seat. Their midfield players were very talented and were able to hold the ball off the home team’s much larger players. Some of the players were even bigger than me! I took the opportunity to apply advantage a few times during the game. There were a few moments that were near cautionable offences but there were no cards to issue by the end. By half-time, the score went up to 1-1 and remained that way until the end of the game. Extra time for 10 minutes with golden goal and still goalless.
That meant KFPM. I chose the goal that had a wall 20 yards behind it so that the ball wouldn’t travel far after the kick had been taken. Unfortunately when we arrived at the goal, it wasn’t quite centered. The coach told me to use the other goal. I looked back with a grim stare. He had been complaining about niggly things all game and I wasn’t pleased with him telling me what to do whether it was a gamesmanship tactic or not. He read my thoughts and defensively suggested that adjusting the nets would take longer and that he could provide substitutes to fetch any wayward balls. I didn’t want any impression that the coach was influencing me this game but I accepted his advice and we chose the goal at the other end and trotted over.
Before the kicks proceeded, I gave the goalkeepers a quick debrief on expectations about positioning when they were and weren’t protecting the goal. Both accepted it without any questions and took up their positions. The substitutes began gathering behind the goals but I had them move apart so that they would not be visible through the nets from the kicker’s view. As I walked back after giving them a quick briefing, the kicker asked
Ref, could you… (while pointing beyond the goal)
I nodded with a smile since I had read what he was about to ask. The substitutes had just moved to the side out of sight beyond the posts. He gave me a thumbs up and started his walk back having already placed the ball. The kicks proceeded to sudden death until seven kickers had been used for each team and the home team won.
I walked back to the centre of the field while the celebrations were going on and could see some of the away team midfielders crying. It was a hard fought game. Football is a game of passion no matter the age group.
I tried to console a few of them letting them know they should be proud of their performance. The coaches from both teams seemed pleased with the refereeing. The away team coach came back and joked
I want my money back now!
I was pleased with how the game went. A positive week.