Last weekend I was assigned a rookie ref with an experienced radiation. But with this kind of confidence, you can also go too far or make wrong judgments.
I had tried to find him at the club’s secretary office, but he wasn’t there. The guest team had just arrived, we shook hands and they had a question: whether it was correct that the game was planned on a pitch without field railings. Ehh, yes, great question. As this game was a category-A game, they had the right to claim a pitch with railings and I had a good project for our rookie ref to deal with.
I introduced myself to the rookie ref at the field and awarded him a technical game project to handle: try to swap fields with 20mins left to kick-off. I explained briefly what his options were and he nodded. Back at the clubhouse, he explained the situation to the lady in charge and suggested they swap fields with another (category-B) game which had railings. The secretary noticed he brought his FA representative and agreed to arrange this. No need to push harder and after only 5 minutes delay the game was underway.
You could see that despite this being only his 4th game of his ref course, and me his 2nd mentor so far, he clearly was a potential career ref. No unnecessary show of rule knowledge or other efforts to impress his mentor. It all seemed to come naturally, and he just saw everything he needed to see. A little insecure in his positioning at free kicks, but that was corrected over our half time chat. Verbal warnings first and players trying to push the limits were shown a yellow card. Both coaches even making positive comments about his conduct and even ‘warned’ their players for this excellent young ref who they should not try to fool.
We had a good chat at half time and I helped him with his positioning at free kicks with practical guides. Where do you expect next things to happen? In the wall (handball), off-side or pushing and pulling in the box? Make a choice and tell your AR to take a different position. He did. Wow… Correct free kicks, indirect/direct. Advantage given, penalizing wrong throw-ins, off-side calls. Telling a coach to stay in his instruction zone, etc. etc.
I was baffled and could barely make any negative comments on my voice recorder.
Then, deep into 2nd half, something unusual happened. The rookie ref suddenly stopped the game and started talking to a spectator. I was on the opposite side of the field so couldn’t hear what was being said but could see him making gestures similar to ‘please leave this area’. Never seen a ref doing this, especially not at this age. Nothing I could do about it and I just left it there and kept watching. Spectators started talking about it and somebody said she had seen the spectator shouting insults to the home team AR.
The rookie ref ended the game a little too early to my own calculation, but nobody made a fuss and just congratulated the ref with an excellent game. For me, there was one burning question: what happened in the 25th minute of 2nd half? I asked this in his locker room after having congratulated him with his great game.
He smiled and told me his AR had complained about a spectator insulting him several times. He decided to take action and simply told this person to leave the area or else he would abandon the game. I praised him for this bold action, but advised him never do this again but just leave it to the hometeam captain. I added that I could see him reffing other games in the future, bigger than today’s with a tenfold of supporters. Try to imagine the sneers you will get doing this again … and the spectator refusing leave! He nodded and said he understood.
I made a mental note of his name and promised myself to follow this new ref to see where he will end up. Hopefully not with being escorted by police.