Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My First Match

I'm sure I'm driving my assignor crazy. I've been pestering him for an assignment since the first schedules came out in this area. The first league in this area to have scheduled games is the local girls soccer league. For some reason, they start 3 weeks before the boys league in the same region. I guess they have more teams and thus more weeks in the season. Who knows?
The first mistake I made was being confused about which assignor assigns for which league. I have 2 assignors that know about me, but I had them confused as to which league they assign for. I ended up not getting assigned the first week of the season because of that. There's a lesson in there: Know the leagues for which your assignor works.
I got a call for the second week of the season. My assignor gave me a U-8 girls game for the weekend. I was all set. I got out my notes from my certification, my copy of the Laws of the Game, my copy of the Guidelines and Procedures, and a few other FIFA papers that I found on the web. I reviewed them all so I was confident in my knowledge of the Laws. Unfortunately, weather made the local fields unplayable. The league called me 2 days before the match to tell me it was canceled. What a disappointment!
My disappointment was soon lifted by a call on Saturday morning from my assignor. He asked, "Can you do a friendly match tomorrow?" Without hesitation, I agreed. I was to be an Assistant Referee (AR) with 2 very experienced referees. Perfect!
The match was between U-16 girls from a premier league. This was a good opportunity to learn. I was sure to arrive at the field 30 minutes before game time (I double checked the location the night before). The other officials had not arrived, so I walked out on the field, set my bag down and went about checking the field conditions. One of the goals was not weighted down, but the sand bags were there, so I put them where they needed to be. (Don't forget to check moveable goals for some sort of appropriate anchoring!)
As a side note, being new, I was surprised at the way the coaches handled themselves. They both made sure to come to me and introduce themselves. Yes, I realize they won't always be that nice, but I can get used to being called "Sir" before games start.
The other officials arrived a few minutes after me. I went over to introduce myself and was quick to point out that additional instruction from them would be most welcome. I suspect my assignor put me with these officials on purpose as they were very forthcoming with tips and suggestions. The center even spent a few minutes with me going over my responsibilities as an AR. He reminded me to back him up on time keeping. He told me to keep an eye on his half of my touch line, just in case he couldn't see who put the ball out. Interestingly enough, he made it clear he wanted me to avoid signaling any fouls in the penalty area. He pointed out that this was a friendly match and he didn't want any controversy that wasn't absolutely necessary.
We walked out on the field together to the center circle. I observed the introduction between team captains and the coin toss. After the toss, I walked to my position and waited for the start. As I was waiting for the match to start, I concentrated on which team was attacking in which direction. I didn't want to get that wrong on my first call. In fact, I was thinking about it so much I almost forgot to start my watch!
My observations from the first half are only a few. For me, keeping up with the game physically was not a problem. I run about 5 times a week. Even though these were 16 year olds, keeping up with them wasn't an issue. However, I was warned by my instructor that my first match would seem like it was "going 100 miles per hour." That is spot on! I felt like I couldn't keep up mentally, meaning my decision making process felt slow. This improved as the match went on. I grew more confident with my signals. I realized the more confident I was with my mechanics, the more the players bought into my decision. The 2nd half of the match was a little different than the first. The team now attacking my end of the field was being more successful in that they were getting much closer to the goal. I was having to sprint to stay with the 2nd to last defender. They were much closer to being in an offside position. The match was a very good experience and gave me confidence for my upcoming first match in the center.
After the match, I spoke with the center for a few moments. He gave me a few things to improve on and said I had done a good job and I would be fine.
On a final note, I should point out that I sent a quick email to my assignor after the match. The email basically let him know that the match went fine. I also thanked him for the assignment. In some regards, refereeing is a job. As such, one wants to develop a good relationship with their assignor.

No comments: