Sunday, November 23, 2008

Final League Games for the Season

I put in for games on this, the "make up game" weekend for the league we work. I ended up with 3 games assigned. On arrival at the field, we decided I would work the first game, a U-13 boys match, we would flip a coin for the middle game (U-11 boys) and then a colleague would work the final, U-14 boys match.
Given that it was about 30° out, these were fairly young players, and this was the last weekend of the season, I didn't expect much trouble from these games. Interestingly enough, the first game turned out to be a pretty exciting one. As you do a lot of games, you soon realize you need to expect anything in any game. For example, 3 minutes into this one, the red team's forward committed a reckless charge against the opposing goalkeeper. Where did that come from? Is this game important to one or both of the teams? Is this a rivalry game of some sort? I thought to myself "this might be interesting." Obviously, he earned a caution for his effort. I was thinking there might be more to this game than I understood, but when I took him aside, it was pretty clear he knew what he did and it was more from being 13 and clumsy, rather than any kind of malice. Other than that incident, the first half went well.
At the half, one of my colleagues seemed a little bored with the games. He seemed disappointed that we were doing games at a middle to lower skill level. His comment got me thinking. What do you consider a "good game" to referee? Most of us are fans of the game as well as being a referee. When I evaluate the quality of a game, I look at it in the context of the players age and skill level? Did the players get a fairly officiated, sporting game? Did they seem to play up to or beyond their skill level? To me, that is a "good game." I do not look at a game between lower ranked teams, or younger age groups, as a boring game. It's a game that needs quality officiating so the players can, hopefully, meet or exceed their current skill level in a fair environment. Always remember, most of the time, your current game is the only one the players are going to get this week. Do your best because it is important to the players.
The 2nd half was played quite well. The teams were equally matched and played hard. Play was aggressive, but fair. There was an additional caution at the very end for a reckless tackle, but all in all a great game! Afterward, the coach of the visiting team made the comment that we were the best crew he has seen all season! You have to like that. He appreciated that we stayed out of the game, only interfering as necessary. I felt like the players got the game from us that they deserve.
Shoes Pay Off
Regular readers know I just purchased new referee shoes. They paid off at this game. I wore the turfs to the game, reasoning it was very cold out and the field would be very hard. I started the first game still under this assumption as I was the 2nd official to arrive and had not walked the field because my colleague had done the pre-game check. Minor mistake. About 25% of the field was very slippery and muddy. I had not noticed it because it was on the opposite side from where we put our bags down. At half time, I switch to my newly acquired studs and I was good to go! They made a huge difference. OK, they are probably not necessary if you are newly certified. I'm just suggesting that, as you do more games, you consider having 2 pairs of shoes in your car so you are better prepared.

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