Saturday, May 17, 2008

Learning with the 11's

I only managed one game this weekend. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of my referee schedule.
I ended up in the middle for a U-11 boys game. The teams are not particularly skilled, so you have to watch out for things that less skilled players tend to do. Pushing, holding and the like spring to mind. These teams are fairly evenly match so it was a back-and-forth kind of game. I'm not saying it was a challenge to keep up with play, but I did really have to pay attention. I refer to this type of play as "the scrum" where you get 4 or 5 players in a small group wildly kicking at the ball. There is an inevitable kick in the shins in there.
In my mind, there were three interesting situations in this game. The first involves assistant referee position and the team aspect of refereeing. The second involves knowing the law and making the best call you can within it. The third underscores the importance of your viewpoint on the field.
At one point, the red team plays the ball into green's penalty area. The green team is failing to clear the ball so it's bouncing around a bit. One shot goes off a defenders foot and shoots up in the air, coming almost straight down near the goal line. The goalie bobbled it a couple of times from hand to hand with his back to me. To me, the ball looked like it had to be over the goal line. I looked to my assistant. I was glad to see he was right on the goal line watching play carefully. Up went the flag for a goal! It doesn't sound like much, but the key take away here is he was in the proper position to make the call. Nice stuff! I could not be sure where the ball was, so I looked to my team mate and was rewarded!
Another interesting situation occurred, resulting in my awarding a penalty kick. Again, there was a "scrum" situation on the left side of green's penalty area. Red falls down and makes a few pokes at the ball with his foot. As he's getting up, green puts a forearm on his back, pushing him down to the ground. I was 20 feet away and immediately blew the whistle and pointed at the spot. The green coach was not happy and wanted the call for "dangerous play" since red played the ball on the ground. Now, we all know that playing the ball on the ground is not necessarily an infraction. In fact, the "Advice to the Referee on the Laws of the Game" says, in section 12.13,
Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground.)...The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball...
It's important to realize that many things coaches and players say are because of the various myths about the laws that exist.
The third item of the day involved me having the right viewpoint and position on the field to make the correct call. I think having the "best" position is a skill, with a little luck thrown in too. In this situation, red played the ball into green's penalty area, from the right side, to a forward standing about on the penalty spot. He struck the ball. It hit a defender directly in front of him in the knees and bounced back at him. As it came off the ground, one of his outstretched hands pushed it back toward the ground, not unlike one might dribble a basketball. As it came back down, he shot it into the net. I blew the whistle before he had struck the ball and pointed up field. After the game, my assistant told me he was screened from view and it was a good thing I had a good view on the play.
It was a good weekend. I learned a lot and had a great time working with two quality assistants. All that happened in only 1 game. What could be better?

No comments: