Saturday, September 29, 2007

Long Weekend

On Saturday, I was assigned 3 games. the first was a league game for U-8 boys. Me and another adult referee were Assistant Referees for a younger guy. The younger guy seemed a little, well, awkward. He was very tentative in the way he approached the game. Even the coaches commented a few times. They speculated that perhaps this was his first match at the center. I started to think the same thing. The guy really didn't call much in the way of fouls. I know how that feels. Sometimes, after thinking back over a game, I find myself wishing I had called a few more things. Anyway, there were indications this might be the guys first game in the center. At half-time, I was making some small-talk with him. I asked how long he'd been a referee. He said "3 years." I was shocked. I really believed this had to be, if not his first, one of his first games. It proves the theory another experienced referee had given me. He said that some referees have years of experience. Some referees do their first year, over and over again. I believe that now.
Other than the U-8 game, we had 2 NJ State Cup games. I was assigned to the center for the 3rd game of the day, and the other adult on the crew that day had the 2nd game. The 2nd game turned out to be a more competitive game than the 3rd, but I'm not complaining. I got to do a state cup game, after all! The great thing about this day of games was I got to work with a guy that I feel is a genuinely good, quality referee. Even when working as my assistant, he was impressive. He made good calls and had proper mechanics. It was refreshing and made me realize how much easier it is to do the center when you have good assistants.
In my state cup game, there was really only one play that was notable. For some reason, the coaches on one of the teams thought it was a good idea to waste a corner kick trying a little trick play. They had one of their girls put the ball down and put a tap on the top of the ball. Then another player went over and kicked the ball out of the corner circle. She followed the ball out of the corner and kicked it again. Tweet! Double touch. The coaches were not happy. The thing is, law 17 says "the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves." Advice to the Referee says the ball cannot be just tapped on the top. I think I got this one right. From my viewpoint, the ball did not move.
On Sunday, I had 4 games. We tend to get the same 4 teams when assigned to this particular club. There are 11, 12 and 13 year old boys as well as a U-9 boys team. I was an Assistant for 3 of the games and assigned to referee the 13 year old boys. I've worked with one of the other referees a couple of times. It seems we do a better job when we've worked with another official a few times. I guess you start to get used to each others style.
One observation I made this weekend is related to the experience of coaches, relative to their teams. It seems to me there is a correlation between the age and experience of a team, and the experience and knowledge of the team's coaches. It is probably obvious if you think about it. During the U-9 game, I had to ask the coaches of both teams to step back from the touch line several times. I can see the players being in the way. They are only 8 year olds, so that doesn't really bother me. I got a little exasperated toward the end of the game when I had to strongly insist that one of the coaches stay away from the line. This guy was actually standing on the touch line for much of the game. At this point, the coach says to me "I wasn't on the line!" The situation brings up quite a dilemma. Do you make a big deal out of it? After all, it's a U-9 game. On the other hand, if I miss a ball in/out or I'm not on my offside line, these same coaches will be sure to let me know about it. I discussed the matter after the game with the other referees. They pointed out it becomes a non-issue if the local club would paint a "spectator line" on the field. Perhaps that is the right answer.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Season, New Assignor and a State Cup Game

I decided on the assignor I want to use for the next season or so. He assigns for the same league I was working last season, but he has clubs that are closer to my home. Another referee made me aware of him at a tournament I worked in the late summer. Coincidentally, the assignor was working a tournament that my son played in, so I got a chance to meet him face-to-face. He seemed delighted to have a referee from my area because one of the clubs that is close to me has very few referees.
It appears I made a good decision. My first weekend of availability saw me working 4 games. I was the referee in 2 of the games and an Assistant Referee in the others. This is a big improvement over my previous assignor where I was getting 1 or 2 games (if I was lucky). Almost all of those games were as Assistant Referee.
This coming weekend, I put in availability for both Saturday and Sunday. Between the 2 days, I have 7 games assigned. 2 of them are State Cup games! The assignor specified that I do one of the State Cup games as the Referee. I'm really excited about this, as it seems to be an acknowledgment that he trusts I'm experienced enough to do a good job in this game. State Cup in NJ is taken pretty seriously, so it should be a great game! I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Looks Like Green is In

I was just reviewing one of the many referee related websites that I visit. I noticed a reference to a new green jersey for 2007. I've been reading about the possible addition of a green jersey for some time now, but this time is different. Check out the 2007 administrative handbook. On page 34, where it describes the referee uniform, a green uniform is referred to as having "BOD approval." Looks like green is in!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Can You Ever Get It Right?

Even though I worked a tournament 2 weeks ago, I consider today's game to be my opening game of the Fall season. It was a U-12 game from a local premier girls league. I have to admit, when I received the assignment, I was a little intimidated because it was being played at a local ethnic club. I have had other referees tell me games can be tough at this site as the club members take their soccer very seriously. Not only that, but I was by myself on this one. That's right. No assistant referees!
The game turned out to be pretty uneventful. It was well played. There were very few fouls, although I did end up awarding a penalty kick for a pretty obvious deliberate handling foul. It was so obvious, the offending side didn't even complain about it!
We made it to within 2 minutes of the end of the game with everything going smoothly. The home team stripped the ball from the visitors around the halfway line, made a couple of good passes and put the ball in the net. Suddenly, I had the visiting team yelling about an "obvious offside" and a "handball" by the home team. The possible offside just wasn't there. Since I was by myself, I was watching that carefully. It just didn't happen. The last pass before the goal was a chip over the receiving player. It came down over her shoulder and landed in front of her. It is possible she handled it, but I certainly didn't see it and I was a lot closer than any of the coaches, so I don't believe it happened.
The lesson I learned from this game is you will always have someone complain about something you did, or didn't call, in your games. I don't think it is possible to get through a game without complaining from one side, the other, or both. The next game referee was there when I came off the field. I asked him if he noticed anything and he said he did not. He's far more experienced than me so I trust his input. He said you cannot call things you do not see. He pointed out you cannot look at everything on the field at one time, so it is possible, in fact likely, that you will miss things on the field. You can't worry about it. I think that's good advice.