My heart was beating fast. It was make or break today. It was the last game of football of the year. My last shot. I needed the pass if I wanted to get to the next level.
I had my pre-game music playing in the car to get me in game mode. I took the same route to the field every weekend so I didn’t need GPS directions. AR1 was already at the field when I arrived. I had worked with him before so I had a familiar face on the team. I dumped my bag and ErvoCom flag case at midfield just off the touchline rather daringly. The field area was known for thefts and shady business but I suspected electronic flags were the strangest things to show up for resale on the black market. I wandered around the field half-inspecting and half-looking out for the teams trickling in as well as the imminent arrival of AR2 and the assessor.
The assessor was a familiar face having done my first assessment while I was on the line for AR1 earlier in the year. The tables had turned. I couldn’t help but chuckle when AR1 and the assessor collectively gave me tips on things he looked out for in an assessment. It was a direct line of communication on what I should pay particular attention to (common mistakes). I was definitely not used to hearing it this straightforward.
90 minutes later…
AR2 looked over at me with a grin.
“Congrats! You’ve made it.”
I saw the glint of mutual enthusiasm in his eyes. It was truly genuine. I felt a bit sheepish and didn’t want to appear arrogant so I tried to stifle a smile. It may have shown up as a smirk but I wasn’t sure. It was a rather surreal feeling. It was a win but didn’t quite feel like one. I hadn’t commanded that game to the calibre I wanted to or expected.
For all intents and purposes, I had fulfilled all the requirements. I had done what I sought out to achieve at the start of the year but there was still a lot of work left.
The biggest takeaway from the game was the management of injuries. The majority of players were of Central American ethnicity and there was a strange series of what I call milk-it-fouls. Players would spend extra time on the ground after ordinary fouls in an attempt to get their opponents in trouble or draw attention to themselves/the incident. I read this quickly so I wasn’t tolerating too much of it. At one point, I quickly ensured that there was nothing actually wrong and proceeded to restart play while the player was still on the ground taking their time getting up. I had grown rather impatient of players constantly being down for the simplest of fouls.
This, of course, from the game’s outside perspective looked as though I didn’t care and that management was slipping. In fact, the approach I could have taken was starting to send players off for treatment as it repeated. That would ensure that:
- they get their adequate treatment instead of lying down on the field every other minute,
- the game stopping and
- me sauntering over in a steady pace jog as everyone looked on with deja-vu.
There were two trouble-maker players in the game that also happened to be the target players. It was really a double whammy to watch them both carefully and protect them especially when both of them were involved in a challenge together.
There was a relatively wide variety of feedback from the assessor on the game. A lot to strategise on that were:
- one-offs (didn’t expect to happen again) and
- others that were insightful enough that I needed to work at it for several games and could be sure I had fixed it.