Friday, November 28, 2008

Pleasant Tournament

I had a really nice day today refereeing a modest area tournament. It's a pretty big tournament, but not particularly exclusive. Originally, my son was to work with me. He had a conflict and could not do the tournament. The assignor kept me assigned to a younger age field anyway. We had a day full of U-11 and 12 boys and girls teams. My crew consisted of all younger referees (15-20), one of which I had worked with before.
I did 4 games today with 2 in the middle and 2 as an AR. It was the kind of day that makes me glad I pursued getting certified. We had no problems with parents, coaches or players. All of the games were well fought, and, for the most part, pretty competitive. Although it was cold, the weather was tolerable. There were no serious injury and all the players looked happy leaving the field.
I worked with a guy today that, if he continues, will be a really good referee. He's 20 and takes the job pretty seriously. His uniform was neat and clean. His shoes were clean and well maintained. His knowledge of the game was very good and his mechanics, both in the middle and as an AR were excellent. I spoke with him for a few moments about how impressed I was and encouraged him to pursue an upgrade. It was nice to work with him.
The only mar on the day was a parent that had to prove that adults are ruining the game for kids. I'll give you the short version of the story. I was the AR for this game. At the very start of the game, there was a person having a bit of a heated discussion with the near coach. I overheard much of the conversation. It seems this person had concerns about certain players getting enough playing time. The guy was really giving it to this coach and was relentless. After 4-5 minutes, he backed off and sort of hovered behind the player bench. At one point, I quietly asked the coach if this individual was a coach (ie, he has a coaching pass) or a parent. I pointed out that he cannot be in the technical area if he is not carded to the team. At half time, this guy starts in again on the coach. The referee and I got involved as the debate was getting a bit heated. We pointed out that the subject of the argument was none of our business, but the parent would have to leave the technical area. Well, this guy takes his daughter, and her player pass, and decides to leave. The look on this little girl's face said it all to me. She was crying and did not want to leave her team mates. A few of the other players noticed it as well. Apparently, this parent had lost sight of the fact that it is about the child and their desire to play soccer, not about the parent's desires or hurt ego because their child doesn't play as much as they think she should. It's hard, but as adults, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this game is about the players, not about the coaches, parents, or referees.
Time for Upgrade Thoughts
I wasn't sure I was going to make it this season, but I did. I now have enough games as a referee (75) to register for the upgrade, or Intermediate clinic. In my state (New Jersey), it's in March. I've already made some noise with the State Youth Administrator, so hopefully I'll get in. We'll see.

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