2016

So what have I been able to achieve this past year?

Personality

Now, I don’t mean my personality on the field. I mean my personality off the field. To a surprising extent, I’ve noticed qualities of refereeing that I’ve been working on in the field come to life in my personal life. This was certainly not intended or maybe I’m over-analysing/hyping things but this is what comes to mind.

  • Being calm and decisive in hot situations
  • Being more direct with communication to achieve the goal I’m looking for
  • See next heading (don’t want to spoil it)

Persuasiveness & Empathy

For some strange reason, I’ve been able to convince people of my decisions and make them see my point of view much more effectively whether it’s with coaches, players or other referees. I literally have no clue how this developed. The reason I remember this is the usual short pause after something I say during a 1:1 conversation and seeing the other person nod in sincere agreement before accepting it. It’s often followed by a short moment of silent surprise from me.

“Was it really that easy?”

What I have learnt about communication, is that persuading (in its truthful form) is the act of bridging the gap between perception and reality. What a player may have believed happen may or may not have happened but it’s the referees job to deal with it accordingly and ensure communication bridges the views so there is no need for personal justice to be doled out by players.

Apart from that, I’ve finally found the element of empathy in the game. Understanding how players feel and will respond has been key. The best example I can give is following a tackle or challenge that may or may not have been or decided to have been a foul. I often, approach the player asking if they’re ok appreciating the level of physicality they took to see if they are ok. A momentary wince on my face as well as an extension of the arm as though I’m reaching out to them (without touching them) is customarily part of my routine.

Players tend to respond to this very well as well as the general perception of spectators since I don’t simply walk over, ask him to get up or dispassionately call the coach to attend to the player without any notion of caring.

Assessors have commented on my personality overall as well although they don’t have a pin-point explanation. Let’s chalk it up to experience.

Upgraded

Hey, what? That’s right! Another upgrade successful. Midway through the pyramid now. From a vast amount of uncertainty with the state of things last year (there’s a pun in there somewhere), I managed to pull off a last-minute upgrade. Do I deserve to be at the level I’m at? I’m a bit hesitant. I definitely feel below average and have plenty of work to do.

Fitness

Where are we with this? I mean… I’m alright. I just barely have what I need so that I’m satisfied but I need to push this the ceiling farther back.

Language

This was a rather unexpected entrant but I had to learn basic Spanish to succeed in working games in some leagues so I didn’t have to solely rely on body language. I have to say I’m relatively pleased with the efficacy the phrases I invested in learning have worked. I want to further develop this in the new year.

Tournaments

If you know me well, I’m not a fan of tournaments. Tournaments at the amateur level are played over a short span of days which means the quality of football is lower and the standard of refereeing is lower simply because referees are overworked. I enjoy giving 100% to every game which I can’t do if there is another game to do.

That being said, being invited to a tournament is a prestigious honour. I did receive an invite at the conclusion of December which was a pleasant surprise but it’s time to replicate that with my performance and see if I can receive another invite. Oh right, I couldn’t accept the previous tournament invite since I was traveling at the time.

Retrospective on 2016 Goals

  • Unfortunately the blogging goal didn’t come to a reality. A measly four times this past year. In other news, Dutch Referee Jan has taken his blog to the next level with all the posting he’s doing. Can we count his post growth in mine? Simply put, The Top Ref needs to stay running.
  • #1 ref store in Canada? Not sure how Wayne from HeyRef will feel after reading this but think I’ll be giving him a run for his money soon. Let’s defer this to end of next year and aim bigger. I already know I’ve got the most hi-tech ref store on the planet so job half done. What do I mean by hi-tech? I mean customers experiencing a modern feel with an elite service experience when interacting with the store. No dunky HTML chat engines or 1990s website designs. Not gonna lie – this was easy.
  • I left strategising and upgrading late this year but it was a moment of relief to achieve this and gain some motivation ahead of 2017 and the road ahead.
  • Mental reminders is something I need to continue to work on. I’ve met too many referees who grind game after game without reflecting and iterating on their technique. What does X years of refereeing mean if you don’t improve after every single game? Nothing. One must always work at conscious incompetence since there’s always some room for improvement. I haven’t done this consistent enough on every game to say I passed this goal
  • Last but not least: 30/40 intervals. Job done. Passed the fitness test in March, lost my fitness in the middle of the year and then gained it back in time for an August run of the new fitness test with split intervals (x2) at the FIFA level.

All in all, not a bad year. Can’t say I’d be disappointed to learn about this info a year ago.

Goals for 2017

Go big or go home.

  • Run a marathon (haven’t decided between half or full yet)
  • Hit the gym with a 3-day cadence/week to focus on upper body strength training (already started a month ago)
  • Write at least 7 blog posts with deep insight into games/retrospectives (quality over quantity)
  • Write 1 education blog post (might do this one on my Simulation presentation a few years ago)
  • Transition to an above average referee for the Provincial level (talk about a vague goal)
  • Read the new Laws cover-to-cover before the beginning of March when the majority of games will get going again (overdue)
  • Intermediate level Spanish fluency
  • Complete referee maintenance requirements by June 15th (get it done and get it done early)
  • Receive a tournament invite that requires airplane travel (drivable ones don’t count)

Store Goals

  • #1 Referee store in CONCACAF for referees to go to
  • Flesh out The Top Ref’s mission more
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