I hope you’re being evaluated. That’s shocking.
He poked his finger at me as though jabbing me in the eye across an imaginary distance. It was a sensitive moment and a delicate situation. I knew this was, in fact, the moment of truth, in the game but I wasn’t going to back down. I glanced over his shoulder at the assessor. I wasn’t going to chicken out.
It was the second goal of the game as the home team had gone up 2-0 but in unpleasant circumstances.
I knew the reaction evoked by the defending players was natural in the heat of the moment and I was willing to absorb it. For now…
20 minutes earlier…
Can I get three game balls?
A defender ran over to fetch the scattered balls. As he tossed the last one over to me, for a second, I was pictured myself back at home. I play footy in the house; juggling and practicing my touch.
I stuck my right foot out and tightened my leg muscles to hold it in position outstretched. A split second before the ball hit, I released all my muscles and absorbed the impact. The ball fell down to the ground without a bounce. He cheekily said,
Ooooooooh. Saucy touch!
I responded with a brief grin.
Just in case this refereeing thing doesn’t work out.
Moment of truth
Fast-forward 20 minutes…
I glanced at my AR and he didn’t seem to have any body language inviting a discussion. That was the only way I was going to sell a change like this credibly after looking stubborn or feeling somewhat uncertain. I held the whistle to my mouth as everyone was lined up for the restart. I knew that as soon as I blew the whistle, there was no going back.
I blew it.
Goal after goal followed and I couldn’t help but shrug wondering how this game could have gone had I made a different decision.
A minute and a half earlier…
The ball was kicked by an attacker towards goal from just outside the penalty area near the corner. A teammate spun around just on the edge of the goal area to face the oncoming ball. There was nobody in his immediate proximity (3-5 yards). The ball struck his forearm. His hand was twisted as he was spinning around and it struck it as it was 30 degrees away from his body. It doesn’t get more blatant than this. The ball fell to the ground. A teammate played the ball and scored from a tight angle into the left side of the net.
Cue the chaos.
I didn’t believe it was deliberate.
- It was both ball to hand and hand to ball although I felt more the former.
- The ball was unexpected.
It’s in the six yard area ref! You can’t allow that. He got an advantage out of it!
The game settled and there were very few foul decisions to make following but my work rate had to elevate. I had to work to make sure every decision to follow was 110% right.
I had chosen a bad day to go hiking (the day before) because I was drained by the 2nd half. Each end-to-end run was through the centre circle and my pace has slowed but I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there.
You all passed.
I still felt I had a lot of work to do. I hadn’t in my mind.