Roller coasting from high to low ref ambition – Rodric Leerling

Roller coasting from high to low ref ambition – Rodric Leerling

Two totally different games with ref mentor duties. It started with a young, highly ambitious young lad and ended with a jumbled, uncertain old guy.
I could help both with a sound advice. The first to keep going but not to be over-doing it. The latter to step it up or quit in order not to get in big trouble in the near future.

Spring was in the air and I was looking forward to mentoring a new referee who just started his Dutch FA ref course. I met him in his locker room where he told me this was only his second game in the training course program, but not really nervous. He and his dad traveled 100 kms from the east, more than usual, but they didn’t seem to be bothered. Everything for his refereeing hobby!

The rookie ref told me he earned his club ref badge some time ago and been reffing games at his local club ever since. He only recently got invited by the Dutch FA to join the referee training course. As this all came rather last minute, he had to order his ref kit from the UK as the official kit was sold out in the Netherlands. I frowned upon the necessity of this, as he is only in training and not yet officially FA licensed. But it showed his ambition, he just wanted to look like a real ref!

It was a pretty good game with just a few hick-ups. Like being seduced in getting involved in his AR’s dispute with two spectators. And robotically measuring the 10 yards distance at a free kick when no players were taking position. Double punishing a goalkeeper for a minor foul with a penalty kick + yellow card. All things that can coached and easily polished out. But on the positive side always on time, at the right spot, taking his positions well and getting no comments whatsoever. Wow, a ref star in the making!

How totally different the other ref would prove to be! Spring had gone fast and it started to pour with rain. I was assigned to mentor another rookie ref, this time someone my age (mid 50). But totally lacking experience and, even more importantly, lacking a good physical condition.
He looked lost at times. Blew the whistle 5 minutes too early at half time. Missed some heavy fouls and ‘ruled from a distance’. Just like he must have done at his local club. Well, I told him we expect him to step up to the plate! He nodded and said he understood. He clearly underestimated this kind of games and just started to realize it almost got out of hand. Players were about to take revenge for severe tackles that were not cautioned properly. Getting a ref of his age, they were expecting more experience, but realized only shortly in the game he was just a rookie ref. Luckily they didn’t really take advantage of it and the game ended with handshakes, and a few head shakes too …..

I sent two totally different assessment reports to the FA, cc to the refs. I just hope that both will have taken the advice to heart and will be doing well in future games.

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