As you may have noticed, I’m far behind on blog posts. As a result, I’ve decided to tell this story in flashback because there are tales and stories to tell about the last six months. I will tag posts and title them with Past/Present as we jump back-and-forth.
I begin with a jump to the present after my last post about the Super Cup almost 12,000km away.
Refereeing has moved to a year-round schedule. Definitely not something I am used to but I finally understand what all the English, Irish and Dutch referees were talking about. There are so many games around. Relative to the number of referees, there is simply not enough to sustain three match officials per game. As a result, I find myself in the middle, often, alone for most games. It’s a different experience. It makes it difficult to adjust to games that have ARs and remember teamwork and communication. On the other hand, I’m refereeing a lot more often and gaining more experience.
I find myself to have arrived at a stage where I have achieved conscious competence in my current level of games but need to go back to the drawing board with developmental points. Believe me, that list is not exhaustive. Preventing myself from becoming stagnant is difficult. With games happening across a longer period, it’s easier to select games in moderation, reflect and strategise.
Dialling back to the start of the week, I was recovering fresh off a set of weekend games. Games year-round means that they are mainly played on weekends so weekdays are for recovery, reflection and development.
Tuesday night is education session night with the local FA’s Referee department. I got out of work late and raced to the field across town and arrived 10 minutes late. The session was primarily focused on reflection at the Cup finals that had taken place the prior weekend. It was a good reminder of conduct both on and off the pitch and egos.
Following the session, several referees met up to go out for dinner. A bonding experience and an opportunity to learn more about the area (how things worked).
Wednesday was catch-up night with an old referee scheduler and mentor. Chatting with mentors often is a great way to keep up motivation and remember goals. It’s easy to get lost in the midst of games and forget about the end goal.
Most leagues assign games during the week so Wednesday/Thursday is a good indicator of what’s coming up for the weekend. The build-up is quite unpredictable since I almost never know what games I have the weekend before. It’s always fun to see what appointments come on well, because they come all year-round!
Friday night was match day. Traffic after work was a little erratic and I arrived at the field 15 minutes prior to kick-off. When I reached the gate of the field, an American football match for high schoolers was going on and the board looked like it was about to end late and push my game’s kick-off. I tried to understand what was going on in the game but it was “un-understandable”. Never my cup of tea. I like the real football. I wandered around a bit to see if I could spot the teams amongst the spectators and/or the rest of my crew. I finally spotted one of my assistants after we made eye contact and he looked like he was looking for me! He pointed out the two teams quite quickly but we wondered where our third was. Just before the American football match ended, our third arrived with paperwork. He had evidently arrived earlier and was clearing the card checks for the teams. Perfect! Helps us get it going faster.
The goals were moved into place as I made sure the balls were pumped to the right pressure. We kicked off soon enough.
I was dressed in short-sleeves since I enjoyed the brisk cold but my ARs were bundled up to protect themselves from the cold in case they weren’t moving much. The early movement warmed me up and I didn’t have any trouble with the weather after that.
The game was attacking in nature going in both directions. A centre-back on one of the teams was one of the shortest players on the pitch but proved to be the hardest to dribble as she out-muscled her opponents and made tackle after successful tackle.
Overall, there was little need for action by me except on two offside decisions. A player who appeared to be clearly in an offside position was running to a lobbed ball but it looked like it was more clearly going to another player who may or may not have been in an offside position. My AR had reacted so quickly that I wasn’t sure if he had accounted for it so I let play continue. It was easier for me to let a goal be scored and disallow it after confirming than to make a decision on a false offside. I realized I should have waved him down a little quicker. When I had a chance while passing by, I confirmed with him and he agreed that the attacker who got to the ball was indeed onside. Nothing had come out of it but it was important to make the right decision as a team.
Almost as though, someone had heard us, the same thing happened again not long after. I looked over hesitantly. This time the ball went out of play. I ran over to directly consult with him this time and got the confirmation.
Both players offside?
When I returned to my bag after the game, it was covered in a fresh layer of ice frost.
It was a fun night for a game. How much colder it was going to get as the season progressed? I don’t know.
I was caught out in evening traffic as the bridge heading out of the city was reduced from four to one lane. With a quick text message to the assignor and some lucky stars, I arrived just in time for kick-off with no time to spare. Both games were quite rough in nature. I say this for a Futsal atmosphere knowing that it’s a lot more touch-sensitive than football is. Coming into a league where this appeared to be the norm, it was hard to stamp my authority to send a clear message how the game should be played without appearing nit-picky and attention-seeking. As a result, I put up with it and set the bar so it wasn’t too high but wasn’t quite where I would have liked it either. Compromise.
It was more interesting at this age group to see how various coaches responded and understood Futsal. The sixth accumulated foul always seemed to be a surprise to everyone.