Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time for Soccer Again

It's that time again. I've been diligently reviewing my copy of the Laws of the Game and Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game. My son has started his soccer practices, so I have some free time on my hands.
Speaking of my son, he got certified as a grade 9. Now we have 3 referees in the family. It's working out pretty well for my older boy. Hopefully, my younger one will have the same experience.
So, I started my fall season by working a local late summer tournament (or did I end my summer season?) The assignment process was a little strange. I put in my availability about 3 weeks before the tournament, only to find out there was a new assignor. I didn't get any response from that assignor until about 5 days before the tournament. I had already assumed I probably wasn't going to be working. The response, addressed to many others as well, basically said we'd be getting our assignments late in the weeks because of some problems with the tournament folks. That's fine with me, as long as I know I'm working. Before the week had ended, we went through 2 completely different assignment schedules. I also noticed, by reviewing the tournaments game schedules, that there seemed to be far fewer teams this year. I guess some of the assignment confusion came from the tournament losing teams.
This is the first time I've worked a tournament where we were assigned as a 3-referee crew, with no breaks, but we got done earlier in the day. If you read my blog, you know I typically end up doing 6 games in a day, over an 8 game schedule. Usually, the 4 referee crew allows for having 2 games off. We worked 5 straight games on Saturday and 6 straight games on Sunday. I think I like getting done earlier in the day and working with no breaks. It is hectic, for sure, but getting home well before dinner is nice. However, I think if you are going to schedule referees this way, you have to make sure you have field marshals of some sort and that they are competent. We really didn't have help with getting teams ready to play (checking and collecting passes, herding them to the benches etc.) but it worked out ok. It's just tough to stay on schedule, although we managed to pull it off.
I was assigned as the referee for the U-15 girls championship game. What a great game that ended up being! These teams played a very competitive, clean game and it was exciting to watch. Unfortunately, it started out with a big negative: One of the girls seriously damaged her knee in the first few minutes. We had to call an ambulance. If you have a serious injury in one of your games, get that coach on the field quickly and get out of the way. Once it is obvious the injury is serious, be sure to send someone to notify the tournament officials as well.
After the medical incident we restarted. The tournament allowed the girls to play the full game since we didn't have a subsequent game. The teams played through the first half with no score. The second half went scoreless until about 3:00 left. There was a pretty obvious deliberate handling (2 hands!) in the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick. Believe it or not, the girl missed!
At that point, I was positive we were going to kicks from the penalty mark. Actually, I was kind of hoping we would as this would allow me to officiate the procedure for the first time. Like I wrote above, this was a great game. One of the teams score with 30 seconds left. Unbelievable!

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