Taming two U15 teams

It all started pretty nice last week: the Autumn weather still mild, the sports complex recently refurbished and the guest welcoming friendly. During the pre-game chat with both ARs we talked about the interpretation of the off-side rule and this all sounded satisfying. And although I decided recently not to take any head from assessors any longer, his announced presence might still have influenced my ref attitude and card management.

First half went smooth, but with lots of small fouls for which I called in the advantage rule and let play continue where possible. I had to admonish the home team’s attacker 2x for kicking away the ball after a foul by their team. Somehow, my lenient warning policy would boomerang back in 2nd half.

Mind you, this was a U15 game with kiddos from halfway US Middle School or European Highschool. The comments made about my refereeing simply surprised me. Please come over here, look at me and listen to what I have to say. Pfff, they didn’t bother really. This flexible ref attitude (to allow for a fast game) would creep into my system after the break. The home team entered half-time with a 2-0 advantage.

Nothing major to think about during the break, apart from possibly too many verbal warnings. But soon into the 2nd half, the home team would add goals fast and it was 5-0 twenty minutes later. The guest team started talking to me in a growing dissent fashion. Ref, why is this no foul? Hey, the free kick wasn’t at the right spot. Handball, ref! Really, this was no off-side!
FYI: I had pretty sharp and neutral AR’s, so no doubt in my mind they were right on off-side all the time.

Amidst the 11 away players, one particularly young lad stood out. He was clearly one of their better players, obviously frustrated about his team’s performance. He started to annoy me commenting on my decisions, asking for a swifter kick-off after yet another goal against his team. I told him to stop grumbling. Soon after, I showed him a yellow card for continuous dissent after showing publicly that he didn’t agree with yet another decision. I haven’t mentioned the away team parents yet, who also contributed to the hostile atmosphere. Their team losing the game was clearly my fault.

The complete away team would follow the dissent-trend and one player even managed to call me partisan towards the end and that I was paid to do this. Well, I fact I am, but paid by the Dutch FA. I just pointed my finger at him indicating I heard him, but left it there.

I ended the game after 80minutes with a final score of 6-1. It puzzled me how this game could have ended in such a negative atmosphere. Cynical comments from the away team and players looking away while shaking my hand. I walked off the pitch, filled out the results in my game app, took a shower and decided not to think about it further. This was one of those typical games where you feel alone as ref and in need of some feedback. Alone against 22 obnoxious young players and shouting parents.
Was I getting too slow? Acting too lenient? Too much talking initially and too many cards eventually? Where did it go wrong?

I’m convinced I didn’t act any different from other games. And I know the assessors report will be available by now, but I won’t read it. Just to avoid getting aggrieved any further. This is just a hobby.

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