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.

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