Saying hello to a former pro

I normally don’t check staff names on the roster. The player passes are important and this time I decided to check them indoors as it was raining cats and dogs. And then he was there, in the locker room, this famous former pro-player, local hero and frequent TV commentator. Waiting for my instructions on the player sub procedure. He just nodded.

This is the way I like it. No need to show off, try to become friends, or worse, ask for selfies. I know coaches can change their attitude towards me from the moment the first whistle is blown. When things go wrong with their team, the ref, in their twisted emotion, is simply the best way to divert attention.

After the game, waiting in vain to have an informal chat, I found out he had just become coach of this U16 team as it seemed a talented team. Some players were invited to join pre-selection games of the Dutch (Orange) national U16 team. I had to ask for shirt numbers to remember their names and position as I was not impressed.

The former pro, with his stout posture and big beard didn’t do too bad with his team, but lost against a more effective opponent. He would only criticize me for a handball that I didn’t observe myself and a throw-in the other side across from his dug-out (mind you!) that he thought should have been for his team. He shouted this across the field and told me I should make my own decision and not rely on my assistant referee (who was on short distance from where it happened). Standard text book comments.

They lost 2-4 on their home turf and I know I reffed a good game. The winning team told me so, of course, but the losing home team didn’t bother to thank me, neither the captain nor their famous coach. Probably a lot to discuss with his talented team.

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