Monday, September 21, 2009

Good League Games

Wow! What great weather we had this weekend, in the Mid-Atlantic area, for our league games! We could not have asked for anything better.
One of the assignors I work with called me late last week and asked me to work a couple of recreational games. My younger son (13, grade 9) works this league so he figured I'd be there anyway. Apparently, he's having a hard time getting the young referees out to do games. He assigned my older son (16, grade 8) to work a game as well. I had 2 6th grade boys games. They were a lot of fun. If you ever feel yourself getting burned out by officiating games, go out and do a couple of short-sided games at a recreational level. They are fun and really low stress. This league wants the referees to take advantage of "teaching moments" and instruct the players, so I had a few chances to educate the players on the Laws of the Game.
My older son and I put in for Sunday league games and we were assigned with another real quality referee to 3 games. We had U-12, 14 and 16 boys games. I can't remember the last time I had high school age boys in the Fall season. In New Jersey, the high school age boys usually don't play competitive soccer in the Fall. Their high school teams don't like it so the club team coaches don't do it.
I had the middle for the U-16 game. In checking in the teams, we noticed the visiting team (yellow) players were generally much bigger than the home team (red) players. We went through the player passes and realized that many of the home team's players were playing up a year. Oh boy.
It was pretty obvious from the whistle that this was going to be a one-sided affair. Yellow was much bigger, faster, and handled the ball better. I have to give the red team credit though, they hung in there for quite a while before the first goal. The first half went well. I had a few opportunities to control the game with my voice and I noticed the other AR was doing the same. He's really good and I know I can count on him. Both AR's were calling appropriate fouls and it seemed we were all on the same page.
By the half, the game was a bit lopsided (3-0). The teams had sort of settled into a playing pattern. I did notice that yellow was still playing quite aggressively. I thought this a little odd given the score. Early in the 2nd half I had to have a few stern conversations with yellow for border-line tackles. Again, I felt this was strange for a one-sided game.
Late in the 2nd half, red managed to get the ball down the left side of the field. Their attacker attempted to put a ball in front of the goal from around the intersection of the penalty area line and the goal line. The ball went over the right shoulder of the defender and he reached up and knocked it down with his hand! A peaceful game went to kaos in about 4 seconds as the red team's coaches were screaming for a send-off! I was positioned around the top of the penalty area. I blew the whistle hard and walked quickly toward the offending player. In my mind, I though of sending him off for a second, and then realized this was not an obvious goal scoring opportunity. I cautioned the player and pointed out to him how close he was to being sent off. After the caution, I had to give the red team's coach a quick "Sit down and be quiet!" as he was going ballistic. Red converted the penalty kick for a goal.
After the game, we talked about that play. My son said he felt that I made the right decision while my other AR said he wasn't so sure. In reviewing the "Advice to the Referee" later, I found this:
The send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses, "denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)," does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense under circumstances in which, in the opinion of the referee, the ball would likely have gone directly into the goal but for the handling.
The infraction the yellow player committed was certainly cheating and it was certainly unsporting behavior, but by this definition, it was not denying a goalscoring opportunity.  In my opinion, this ball was not going directly into the goal in a thousand tries.  It just was not going to happen.  I think I did the right thing.
I think I've said this before, but this is another example of how you cannot "fall asleep" during a game that seems like it has settled down.  Things happen when you least expect them, even in an "easy" game.  You must always be on your toes and paying attention.  Also, notice the quote above doesn't say "don't bother sending off if it's a lopsided game."  As much as I might have found it distasteful, I would have had to send this player off had that attempt on goal been likely to go in.
As a side note, I lost one of my favorite flip coins.  I think it flew out of my pocket when I was getting my book out.  Where do you keep your coin so that won't happen?  I'm just wondering what other officials do.


Anonymous said...

>Where do you keep your coin so that won't happen? I'm just wondering what other officials do.

Under the badge.

The Referee said...

I've heard that one! Does that really work? I like that solution and I think I'll try it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Usually after the flip there is a moment where the teams are reporting the results of the flip before heading to the field. I take this time to quickly put the coin back in my bag so I know it's there(as I too would worry it would fall out), and then it's onto the field with my AR's.

Anonymous said...

I started purchasing the fancier ref shorts that have a hidden pocket inside the waistband left of center, just like running shorts. Also, these shorts have pocket flaps in the back with velcro that holds them down. The only thing in my chest pocket is my game wallet. In competitive matches, I need to get it out, write my note, and put it away again quickly to minimize stoppage in play.

Anonymous said...

I keep my flip coin in a different pocket than my book and pen so I never go to coin pocket after the toss. I have left it there, though, and had it bouncing around in the drier. My wife wasn't happy.

Jared said...

I keep my main coin in my left front pants pocket, my whistles(when not in use) in my right front pants pocket, Red card in back right pants pocket, phone(on vibrate) in back left pants pocket, spare coin behind my badge, Yellow card in left shirt pocket with spare pen, and referee wallet in my right shirt pocket. I always do this, so that there is no hesitation when I am going for a card. The only time I vary is when I have to wear my Red Jersey, because it only has 1 shirt pocket, so I then keep my Yellow card in my left front pants pocket, along with my coin.