I check my WordPress blog stats after each new blog. See if it the numbers get any higher than 20 readers. And where my readers are located. Just for fun.
I hardly get any reactions on the blogs other than the ‘like’ on Facebook from my English friends and a read-your-blog-note on Skype from my German former colleague. It confirms the language is ok and the story line was interesting. All I need to know.
But my previous blog on ref favoritism was different. I admit I was pretty annoyed by the tournament ref assignor’s choices, just giving me the basic pre-round games. And if I would have kept it in my normal publication channels, nobody would have noticed. On top of that, all my blogs are intentionally without names and locations, and not tagged in any way.
But I made a judgement error by posting the blog link on the national LinkedIn ref forum. Just to ask people how they would deal with this kind of situations. Made a quick headline and posted the link. The assignor recognized the situation and sent me an agry app. Who I thought I was to make such accusations and I should have said it in his face, coward that I was (note: he wasn’t there when it happened). The tone was too angry to react on and I decided to ignore it. But also realized I could damage reputations and that’s never my intention. So removed the link again and edited my blog to make my point more clear.
Learned another lesson: keep your blogs super neutral and don’t write as frustrated victim of some kind of injustice. The reaction on my blog bothered me ever since it was published. So decided to use again this same blog to apologize if I hurt anyone, the ref assignor in particular. But I won’t publish it on the ref forum again. See who reads it this time.
My youth game ran into trouble mid first half. A foul I couldn’t judge properly happened just in front of the away-dugout. The player cried out of pain and his coaches immediately demanded a card. I just ignored them which infuriated them further. Followed by some bad language and negative advice for the players from the bleachers.
Nothing seemed to be right from then until I awarded them a penalty and they equalized.
At half time I called upon the captains and told them I didn’t like the atmosphere during 1st half. If they could tell their teams I was ready to pull more cards if necessary during 2nd half. They did.
After sipping my tea and considering what happened, I went looking for the away-team lockers. Summoned the players to get ready for 2nd half and kept their three coaches apart. First of all, I said, you are with too many. Only one of you can coach, not all three at the same time. Secondly, the atmosphere is not right, you encourage the players to retaliate. One of them exploded and said I was insinuating things. I knew I was on the right track, stayed calm and told them that if this was to happen again, and if only I had a feeling it came from them, they would be sent behind the fence. That did the trick. One of them offered to volunteer and stay on the bleachers, just to make a gesture of good-will. It worked!
The 2nd half went almost perfect. A 2nd yellow card and the score stayed the same. The chief coach of the away team shook my hands and asked if they behaved well. I confirmed and had a quick chat. The home team thanked me for controlling the game in a professional way. Another game finished on a positive note. Almost done and season over in one week.
It was my turn again last week: reffing two female futsal teams. I could already sense the difference at the sports location. Immediately after entering the futsal arena, I spotted a toddler playing with his robot. Close to the futsal pitch! When I asked “who’s your daddy?”, he just pointed to his mummy.
The preceding male teams were almost ready and the ladies started their warming up. But then a former team member turned up, proudly presenting her new born baby. The whole team skipped the warming up to start speaking toodaleedoo language to the scared looking baby. I had to blow the whistle to call for order and get going.
But what was really noteworthy last week was the Sportlinked app pilot I was asked to participate in. Futsal refs in certain selected game levels were equipped with an mobile phone app as digital game reporting system. This will help skip the (unpractical) need for laptops in futsal locations. Teams normally bring their player passes while the ref checks them on picture and issue date. In the app, this is digitally connected to the futsal association database. Expired passes wont show up. No more scribbling or sticking labels on forms. Easy does it.
However, I noted some issues still to be solved and decided to tweet about it (to speed up things). Most important things is my phone that’s on the table during the game. At higher level games, a secretary will keep scores, time and handle the admin. I don’t want him or her checking my phone for the app. And secondly, where do team captains sign-off on the app? I just did the admin in my ref app, showed it to the team captains and send it out.
Well, the admin app is a big step forward saving us from a lot of hassle, that’s for sure. Glad to start using it next season.
It was one of those typical low ranking futsal games I had to take last week. Because I really was assigned for the 2nd, higher ranked game, I had to ref this one as part of the package.
These guys, however, normally play their games without a ref and behaved no different with me around. This lead to weird situations with balls in an out, the odd hand ball and restarts after a goal. My whistle signal was hardly noticed, hand signals not checked. They always sorted things out between them and it went fine, really.
I let it go and decided to just observe and not impose myself too much just because I’m the assigned Association ref. Instead, I used the time to mentally design another blog. The next game would demand my full attention again. Yet another blog.
I showed him a yellow card, minutes before the last whistle and seconds before the away team scored the long awaited 0-1.
Just had enough of his ‘comments’, not extremely negative, but just enough to make my head turn. Had pointed my finger to him before and noted number 7 in my head.
I hate issuing cards for dissent early in the game as it leaves no space for any fouls or be sent off and influence the game. Still, some players sense that you are that kind of ref and test your tolerance to the max. This young fellow chose intervals of 15 minutes average. Smart ass.
Number 7 would come up to me after the game and I wanted to explain my decision. He started first: “it’s not my first yellow ref, I’m a collector”. Right, always the same players. I laid my arm on his shoulder and told him to be smarter and stop talking when I tell him so. Not try to have the last word and look at me to see what I would do. “You just don’t tempt me”. He smiled and joined his fellow team members to discuss what went wrong in the 0-1 last minute lost game. Probably his concentration.
My football day in Amsterdam started with rabbit holes and ended with a cold shower. In between I had a decent game of football and that was about the only thing I could control.
I can’t recall the last time I reffed a game on real grass this season as the majority of Dutch youth games are
played on astroturf nowadays. As a result, I almost forgot about the issues a ref could face, like the small pitch holes dug by rabbits I found on my field inspection.
I asked for a quick repair on which the groundsman diligently started with repairing complete grass patches. I didn’t want to criticize his approach but carefully aired my concern looking at the time left before gamestart. He said not to worry, he would make it in time, but I decided to help him marking the various rabbitholes with small branches. I left for my admin game preps and just hoped he would find them all. To my big relief he in fact did.
The game went well and I returned to the ref locker room, looking forward to a nice shower. To find out there was no hot water. Bummer! The fringes of today’s game were unfortunate but I decided to cherish a good game of reffing and delete the irritations.
In a relatively short game of 2×25 minutes, it doesn’t happen a lot. Double yellow and thus ejection from the game. Last week it was the first time for me after years of futsal reffing.
It was a game full of irritation. Early in the game I was asked by the guest team to pay special attention to the home captain. Shortly before he apparently punched his opponent in the stomach and I missed it. His opponent was gasping on the floor for air. I allowed their coach to check him out but one of home players thought he should intervene and started pulling the coach away. Weird action and it was rewarded by me with his first yellow. He kept talking, basically telling his coach he was pulled first. Yeh, right.
In the second half he again committed a foul and was sent off after showing his second yellow and thus red. No more blabla this time but accepting his punishment. None of his teammates complained and they didn’t even have to sit out the full 5 minutes penalty as the guests kept punching their goal. They won 2-12.
I would report ‘total game frustration’ as reason if the futsal association would ask for one. Guess not.
It was one of the rare occasions in my league where a game secretary is supplied by the home team. Someone who is dedicated to keep scores and do admin issue like yellow cards and time penalties.
She must be at least 70 years if not older, but always present in this particular indoor location. Pushing the buttons at the start of the game, keep track of time penalties and do the occasional verbal correction to either of the teams who bothers her. What a great lady! I really appreciate her help. But not being used to this support I just continued doing my own things while running up and down the line.
An important call for the secretary is to give the ref ‘the last minute’. Meaning after each half of 25 minutes, the clock is stopped at the last 60 secs to offer the ref his own moment to blow the whistle in stead of the horn doing the job for him (at a potentially awkward moment).
The lady indicated my last minute for 1st half with only a small gesture of her hand. And as I was running the lines on her side, I was probably too close to notice it. Only when a coach asked how long they should keep playing, I looked at my watch and realized we were 3 minutes in over-time already. I apologized and decided, in future, to run the opposite side when getting closer to the last minute. It won’t happen to me again, with or without a secretary.
The Surinam team from Amsterdam had mainly skilled football players. That they didn’t score goals this game didn’t bother me as referee. It was a genuine pleasure watching these U16 players act like pros, trick their opponent and play the ball with precision.
Still, you have to stay alert at this kind of games. The opponent might get frustrated and try to conquer the ball and hit the opponent instead. Foul play is always around the corner. But to my surprise it wasn’t the less skilled and lower player home team that made the errors. I heard the away-coach shout more than once “this isn’t a street game boys!” I would find out myself why he warned them.
A free-kick was awarded to the guests and I indicated the spot for the re-start. The player put the ball on the ground and ‘scarved’ it with his foot twice. to pass it to another team member. I realized what he did and immediately blew the whistle and awarded the free-kick to the other team. Leaving the amazed player with his hands in the air. I quickly told him you can’t play the free-kick ball twice without another player touching it.
Later in the game I had to make another correction when the a guest player did a throw-in with one of his legs high up in the air. Oops. Bad throw-in, and not very professional, his coach would tell him. A last warning from the dug-out: “Guys, we have a ref who takes his role serious, don’t act like pupils!” I couldn’t have said that any better.
It was a special referee instruction session last night. The Dutch FA sent one of its rising stars to teach us how to manage a game. I recognized his face when I entered the room and we started chatting as refs always do. Did you see this, what do you think of that?
Before I knew it, I raised a hot topic in the football press this week. A heavy tackle on a PSV player (where a straight red card would be obvious) was given advantage instead. Our rising star took a deep breath – he had been the acting referee that game! Oops. But he immediately admitted when he watched the replay afterwards, he realised he should have stopped the game and sent the fouling opponent off. He feared a low marking due to this one bad call.
The rest of the evening we watched and discussed videos, evaluated good ref decisions and what could have been done better and why. We learned to decide firmly from kick-off, without being in the centre of attention all the time. When needed to stop a game to try and stop further escalation. Take time to decide and pick your battles. How to use small talk as player correction, but when needed be clear and speak out loud so everyone can hear (and see!) your disapproval of someone’s behavior.
Our hero was applauded for his great seminar performance and we left for home with new insights. We will surely watch him tonight in the Dutch FA Cup semi-final with other eyes.