Sunday, November 11, 2007

First Fall Tournament

This past weekend was spent at a large, highly competitive tournament in my area. I did 11 games in 2 days ranging from U-11 to U-15. It was a good tournament, with some great soccer played.
Well, I guess it was bound to happen. I had my first dismissal today. It was a coach, and there is no doubt in my mind that he deserved it. He started with me on a perceived bad call. I gave him a "that's enough coach." Later, I put the opponent on the penalty mark for an ugly trip in the penalty area. The defender's body actually slid into the legs of the attacker with the ball. It was a pretty easy call. After dealing with the goalkeeper losing her cool over the cool, I had to deal with the coach. He earned a place in my book on this one. 2 minutes later, he completely lost it on a throw in call. That was it. I pointed to the parking lot.
In my mind, I was trying to figure out why I felt like I was having some problems early on with this game. One team seemed content to play the game and was quite calm. The other team seemed upset with every call I made. There was noticeable decent from this team. I found out later, the team giving me problems was in second place in the tournament. The other team was in first. I wish I had known that going in.
Before the first half was over, I ended up issuing 2 more cards. The first was for a cheap elbow thrown as two players were fighting for the ball at the touch line. Naturally, it was right in front of the troublesome team's bench. Apparently, they felt it to be an unfair call. The 2nd was for a Failure to Respect Required distance on a free kick. The player stood right at the ball after the opponent put the ball down. I felt this to be a match-control type of card. I wanted to make sure they were getting the message that I was having none of the nonsense. At U-15, they should know they must give up the 10 yards right away.
The thing that surprised me is that both of the players cautioned in the first half engaged in pretty serious dissent in the 2nd half, even after me reminding them they were already under a caution. I could have easily been justified in sending both of them off. A few of the outbursts were purely emotional and I managed to get through them without too much of a problem.
This was a tough game, but as always, I learned a few things. First, you must expect the unexpected. I went into this game thinking it would be the same as all of the other games. I was sadly mistaken and would have been better prepared if I had known the importance of the game to the teams. In tournaments, we often get caught up in getting through the games on time because the tournament administrators do not want games to run late. This is understandable, but one thing you don't want to skimp on is being sure you have all the cards necessary if misconduct should arise. In particular, be sure you have a card for each of the coaches on the sideline. In this case, I did, but I had not checked before the start of the game.
Now that I've done a few tournaments and a fair share of league games, I have come to a realization. In general, player and coach behavior is better in league games than tournament games. Perhaps it is the perception that the repercussions of poor behavior in a tournament are less than a league game.
I had my first real experience with gamesmanship. Perhaps I've experienced it before and just didn't notice. We had the same team in 3 of our games at this tournament. The coach of this team had 2 interesting tactics she used to try and get a little advantage for her team. First, every time there was a close ball in/out of play call on the touch line, she would noticeably throw her arm up in favor of her team and shout "blue ball!" I don't think it influenced any of us much, but it was distracting for sure. I had a senior referee point this out to me a while ago as being "irresponsible behavior." His thought was it undermines the referees authority, because if you call the throw-in in favor of this team, people think you are influenced by this practice. If you don't, you might be perceived as favoring the other team because of the gamesmanship. This practice needs to be dealt with.
The more serious practice of this coach took me by surprise. There were a few times the ball went out of play near this team's bench. The coach would toss the ball to one of her players that was positioned much further down the touch line than where the ball went out! At first, I thought maybe she was just confused, but she did it several times. Be aware of these subtle forms of cheating.

1 comment:

Madam referee said...

I haven't had any send offs yet, but have issued my share of cautions. My son on the other hand had to send a coach off of a U10 game for constant decent and unsporting behavior. Can you imagine handling this type of situation at 14? In our league, these games are worked by a single referee, either youth or senior. My son was really upset by the situation, but acted in a very professional manner. The other coach later commented on how well he handled the situation. Of course, this was only the beginning of a bad day as a referee! His next game was a U10 girls match. Once again, working alone. The coach came unglued about a nothing call. He screamed and yelled. My son gave him the "enough coach". He seemed to calm down, but at half time he came up to my son yelling about the call again. Luckily, a league rep was there and escorted him back to his team and told my son to go on and get some water and regroup. He came back, finished out the game with little trouble. After the game, the coach came to shake his hand (so he thought) he grabbed his hand with way too much force and pulled him towards him and said "son what's your name". Atthis time, the league rep stepped in and escorted my son back to the pavillion. This turned refereeing into a negative feeling for him and he stopped refereeing for nearly a year. The coach was banned from coaching for 1 year and then has to have an assistant present at all times. Not justice, but certainly better than nothing. I always bring his gear just in case he is willing to pick up a free game. This winter, he stepped up and started again and full speed ahead! He ran as center referee in several adult coed games and did an excellent job! I did insist that he have 2 senior assistants! He worked a U10 this weekend and came off the field saying he now remembers why he loves to referee! A proud moment!