Monday, October 6, 2008

Make the Call

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I just haven't had the opportunity to put in for too many games. As frequent readers of the blog know, I do a lot of running and bicycling. I recently decided to train for a 1/2 marathon. I completed the Philadelphia Long Distance Run in mid-September, managing a time of 2:03. It was a great time and I encourage all of my readers to consider doing something like this. If anything, it will certainly get your endurance up to new levels. Since the 1/2 marathon went so well, I plan on doing a full marathon in November, so I've continued my training. I'm currently up to 16 miles.
This weekend, I got in 5 games. I was assigned to an unusual Friday night game this weekend, as well as 4 games on the usual Sunday. The Friday night game went real well. I worked with a referee that I've worked with a few other times and I highly respect. The other official is a high school age official that the first referee apparently knows pretty well. Before the younger guys arrival, the older official asked if I would be OK with putting the younger guy in the middle to get him some experience. That's one of my philosophies so I was good with it. This kid did a great job! I was very impressed with his ability. He knows the Laws of the Game and has good foul recognition. He blows the whistle like he means it and runs the game like he takes it seriously and is not just there for the money. I can't say that about most referees of this age. Again, I was impressed!
Sunday's games were interesting, to say the least. We had a U-15 girls match at a local community college field, and then 3 younger boys games at a different facility. I did the middle for the girls game and it went really well. I've had both teams before. The home team is very well coached and the players are respectful. Basically, this club's game are uneventful.
I did make one controversial call, but I felt good about it. The visiting team's forward had the ball at the top of the home team's penalty area. A defender came from the right, slid and tackled the ball away. It was a very clean tackle in that the defender got the ball, but she ended up with the forward's ankles between her knees. Instead of turning and watching the ball go away, I kept my eyes on these two players and sure enough, the defender rolled on the ground, in a "scissors move," bring the forward down. Based on the reaction, I was the only person at the facility that saw it. Even my near assistant didn't see what happened. I was literally 6 or 7 feet away and was glad I watched behind the play. This is an example of having the courage to make the call even though you are the only person that saw it. This is the source of a lot of complaining because most people at the field watch the ball and don't see the same things that referees do.
After the girls game, we did our quick drive across town to the other facility to continue our day. The first boys game went on without much in the way of events. The U-14 boys game, however, was a different story. For the most part, it was a clean, well played game. There were 1 or 2 players the referee had to speak with, but it didn't seem like anything was getting out of control. About mid-way through the 2nd half, the home team scored. I was the AR on the opposite end of the field, so I pulled out my notebook to note the goal time. As I put it away, I noticed the visiting team yelling about someone kicking their goalkeeper and the goalkeeper was laying on the ground holding the middle of his back. The referee walked back to the goal area to check on the keeper. After he called the coach onto the field, the other AR motioned to the referee. They had a short conversation and the referee walked back toward the center circle, reaching into his pocket at the same time. I walked onto the field and asked the teammates of the injured goalkeeper to walk away from the halfway line. I knew the referee was about the send someone off and I did not want to allow any opportunity for interaction between the teams. Sure enough, the referee found the offender and sent him off. Again, make the call you know is right. The referee freely admitted he did not see the misconduct, but the AR did and you have to go with that.
Any send off is going to generate controversy. It's just that simple. I don't care how egregious the offense, it seems like all parents and most coaches think a send off is too harsh. In this case, there was a lot of yelling because neither I nor the referee saw the offense. However, the other AR saw it and was adamant that this was a case of violent conduct. He's a high school age official, but I've worked with him and he certainly was not making it up. This is exactly why we have 3 officials and we work as a team.

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