Monday, March 15, 2010

Stormy Spring Opener

I finally got out on the field this weekend.  To be honest, I didn't think it was going to happen.  I live in the mid-Atlantic region.  We were hit by rain and wind on Friday and Saturday that honestly had me contemplating building an ark in the back yard.  Seriously, it was really nasty.
Fortunately, my Sunday games were scheduled for a high school turf field, so I knew field conditions would not be an issue.  However, I did not completely anticipate the issue of getting to the field.  The high school is about 25 miles from my house, through relatively rural towns.
As is my habit, I time it so I arrive at the field at least 30 minutes before the game.  In this case, because of the distance, I decided to get there 40 minutes early.  That was a good decision.  The storm had caused so much chaos that it took me much longer to get to the field than usual.  One small town got hit hard by the storm.  There were downed trees literally everywhere.  I was detoured 3 times going through town.  I saw drooping utility lines in many places.  Traffic was tough on those 2-lane county roads.  Between two of the towns there are about 10 traffic lights.  Only 1 was functional.  It was chaos.  The lesson here is you must anticipate how long it will take to get to the field and plan accordingly.  Fortunately, I got there about 25 minutes before game time.  One of the teams was running significantly late so it worked out.
We had 3 games on Sunday, U-13 girls, U-19 boys and U-11 boys.  I always tell my assignor to send me wherever he needs me, regardless of distance.  I don't mind driving.  It was obvious why he sent me to this field.  One of the guys I worked with was a solid referee, but clearly did not have the fitness to run with U-19 boys and the other guy was a brand new official and only about 17 years old.
We kicked off the cob webs pretty quickly in the U-13 game.  It was very windy so we had to work a little harder to communicate on the field.  Everything went well.  We did have one issue I wanted to mention.  Just before the game started, I asked the guy in the middle about half-duration.  He said "35 minutes."  Since I didn't have the game card, I took his word for it.  It turns out this age plays 40 minute halves.  This was discovered at half time.  The correct solution is to get the teams right back on the field for the remaining 5 minutes, then break for the half.  This referee decided to do a 45 minute second half which is not the correct solution.  Section 7.3 in the "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" says this:
If the referee ends play early, then the teams must be called back onto the field and the remaining time must be played as soon as the error is detected.
Obviously, this could have been handled better.  I should have pushed harder for the correct solution, but I am reticent to be seen as a "know it all."  Otherwise, the game went well.
I am really starting to enjoy doing the older boys games.  I was looking forward to this test of my fitness.  I hope to upgrade to grade 7, so getting a U-19 game is a big deal.  Also, they are few and far between in this area.  The game was fairly straight forward.  The first half went well.  Play was fast, but not as fast as the Super Y League games I did in the summer.  My fitness was better than I had expected and I was able to keep up with play just fine.  It was a well matched game, arriving at the half, 3-0 in favor of the visitors.  In the second half, the home team managed a goal and I thought the game would get more competitive, but they ended up giving up a few and the game eventually ended 6-1.  A few positives came out of the game.  I mentioned in the Fall I was having positioning problems.  I was getting in the way of the players too often.  The issue seems to be better and I managed to stay out of the way for the most part.  I find it's actually a benefit to be further from play in the older games than I would be in the younger games.  Being further away (20 yards) gives you a wider view of what's going on and allows you to keep out of the way. 
Also, I felt good about my ability to set boundaries for the players early.  There was a few aerial balls early on that I yelled "Straight up guys!" while the ball was in the air.  In one case, a player went over the back of another.  I called the foul and said to the player "I said straight up..."  That was the last time I had to mention it for the rest of the game.  Proactive refereeing works.
The third game of the day was good.  The new guy that we worked with had never done a game in the middle.  He had a few on the side.  I encouraged him to do the last game.  We talked for a few minutes before.  I just told him to run flag to flag and call the simple, obvious falls.  Leave the rest to us and he'd be fine.  I gave him a whistle and let him borrow one of my watches and coin (Yes, he's a young guy and doesn't have all his stuff yet).  He did pretty well.  His position was a little awkward.  He had his back to his AR's a little too often.  At the half, I told him a trick someone told me.  When you cross mid-field, always run along the left side of the center circle.  This forces you to get wide enough.  I also told him to try to stay behind play a little more and keep his chest square to the goal line so he can see play and his AR at the same time.  It worked really well.  His 2nd half was much better.  He even made a couple solid foul decisions.  I really enjoy working with new referees.  I think I can make a significant contribution doing this if the opportunity comes up.
It was great to get out on the field again.  Let me know how your Spring season starts!


jayhonk said...

Just FYI: If the discrepency in half length is not discovered right away--in which case you do return to the field--then the proper length for the second half is the 'correct' amount, in your case 40 minutes. While this does seem to contravene the equal halves imperative, it was a question on last year's re-cert so I guess it is the right answer.

jayhonk said...

I remember reading somewhere official (yeah, right) that the distance from play with the fewest errors in foul recognition was 17 yards. This seems about right to me. (The source may have been a WC 2006 wrap-up document, so it may have been 17 meters, which is about what you are saying.)