Monday, April 21, 2008

Helping Out a New Referee

This weekend, I only had 1 game scheduled and it was a short-sided, U-9 game. The good news is I was assigned with a newly certified friend of my son. I've worked with her before. She's been one of my Assistant Referees a couple of times and she has done a pretty good job. Since we were assigned a short-sided game, I decided it was time to practice what I preach and help out a new referee.
When we arrived at the field I asked her if she thought she was ready to do the middle. She looked at me with a little fear evident on her face. I told her it was time, and assuming the other referee agreed, she'd do the center and we would coach her through it. I had not worked with the other guy before, but I mentioned it when he arrived and he whole-heartedly agreed that we should run the lines.
Fortunately, it worked out pretty well. The game turned out to be a good one for her as there wasn't any controversy or particularly difficult calls. She did very well. Her first time in the middle was no different than most in that she seemed to lack some confidence, but her application of the laws was solid. All in all, I think she's off to a good start and will only get better going forward.
After the game, we coached her a little on some things. We pointed out she needs to blow the whistle likes she means it and make sure her field mechanics are confident rather than tentative. Going forward, we assured her she would have to concentrate less on foul recognition, leaving more time to think about game management and better mechanics.
Hopefully, her success will continue and she'll remain an active official.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another Learning Weekend

Just when you think you are getting good at this thing, something unexpected happens that causes you to go back to the books!

I had two games this past week: u-13 and U-14 girls. As I've said before, I've noticed some referees really don't like being assigned to the girl's games. I enjoy them. It's a different kind of game, but the enthusiasm of the girls is contagious. Also, the skill level is amazing.

Deliberate Handling

I'm not a big fan of referees asking the players, during the pre-game talk, "Are there any questions?" You have to be careful what you wish for. I've picked up this habit lately. Naturally, I had a player ask me about "hand balls" related to girls protecting themselves. I gave the generic "It must be deliberate handling of the ball, not merely instinct or the ball hitting the hand" and left it at that.

Naturally, this very issue came up during the game. In the U-14 game, a ball was played in the air toward the halfway line. It traveled about 20 yards in the air. The receiving player chest trapped the ball down using her arms crossed against her chest. Sorry, but in my opinion, this doesn't fly in a U-14 game. I called the foul and their coach immediately started in on me. My thinking is, at U-14, these girls know how to trap a soccer ball without getting hurt, especially when it is passed from some distance. You don't see the Women's US national team doing it, right? I got thinking about this on the way home and did a little research. Here are a couple of sources I found that address the topic:
Stupid Mistake

Yep, I made one. We had a situation where the attacking team had a throw in, close to half-way, on their end of the field. The ball comes in and the attacker carries the ball across half-way and sends it diagonally toward the corner of the penalty area. The ball comes down and is recovered by the defense. At that moment, I notice my AR's flag is up. Thinking she is signaling offside for the long pass, I wave her down as the defense plays the ball back to half-way. The ball is taken back by the original attacking team. They make a couple of passes and score. My AR waves me over. She tells me the attacking team substituted a player without my permission on the throw-in. Normally, this would be a no-brainer for me. The thing that got me was both teams were playing down 1 player. Apparently, one of the teams could not field 11 players, so the other played short. I allowed the goal, thinking this was only a problem when a 12th player was discovered on the field. I now know I should have disallowed the goal and started with an indirect kick from the goal area, after cautioning the player that came on without permission (I did issue the caution). Fortunately, the goal did not make a difference in the game. The thing that is frustrating is I put a lot of time into studying the laws and the accompanying publications only to make a silly mistake. I guess we all make mistakes and the key is to learn from them.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

On Our Own

This weekend had 2 league games in store for me. I could only do Saturday, so I was assigned to a U-10 and a U-13 match. Fortunately, I was assigned with my newly certified friend that started his referee career doing a U-17 boys game!
My typical schedule for league games is 2 or 3 games in a row, usually starting around noon. Sometimes I'll have to switch facilities for one of the games, but the travel is usually quite short. Today was the most unusual schedule I've had to date. Our first game was at 11 am, and our 2nd game was at 4 pm! Very unusual, and not terribly convenient, but it's better than having no games.
As I've mentioned in the past, I find the short sided games (U-10 and under in our state) to be really refreshing. After having a day full of teenage boys a couple of weeks ago, it's nice to have the little ones. If you really pay attention to them, they can be really entertaining. The thing I find interesting about the younger games is you actually need to pay more attention to the game. Don't go in thinking you can rest and take it easy because the players are 9 years old! You'll quickly find out the younger games is where your knowledge of the laws will get challenged. Look for frequent 2nd touches on free kicks and goal kicks that don't make it out of the penalty area. That stuff happens all the time.
An interesting, and all too frequent, thing occurred before the 2nd game of the day. The game was scheduled in a rather affluent town in my area. As is my habit, I always check the goals before a game, even if there is a game before mine. Surprisingly, one of the goals was not anchored in any way. I say it was surprising because this was not a run-down, poorly maintained facility. This was a well cared-for field in a nice park. I quickly mentioned it to the home coach. His assistant immediately pointed out that the previous game had taken place without a problem. This is the kind of pressure you will experience, but you must never play a game without the goals being adequately anchored! Please, don't be the one to give into the pressure. It's not OK to play a game with the field in this condition. In this case, we improvised. We grabbed a nearby field hockey goal and positioned it on it's back with the heavy end lying on top of the ground-level bar on the soccer goal. Problem solved and the game was played!