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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.

Keep calm and play on

It seemed a game as usual last weekend, but the circumstances would turn out to be totally different.
I got wind of a special situation on the sports complex where we would play on pitch 2. Remarkale, because U19 games are mostly played on central pitch, but pitch 1 needed to be free long before the match-of-the-day, or maybe better: match-of -the-decade.

The club where I was assigned this weekend are neighbours to their arch rival. For the locals their football lives are defined by being either blue or red. The derby hadn’t been played for 12 years because one of the clubs used to play one league higher. This season they were matched again and this Saturday was D-day. All games (home and away!) after 12noon were changed to an earlier slot and my game was the last one before the big one. Everyone wanted to be join the derby and all tickets were sold out.

We started to get a feeling for the special game halfway our own game: supporter chants and smoke bombs going off, followed by big bangs from heavy fireworks. These were again followed by sirenes from firetrucks and police cars. Luckily, the wind was blowing away from my pitch, otherwise I might have had to abandon the game. In the corner of my eye I also noticed long queues at the ticket box just outside my pitch.

After blowing the last whistle the home team quickly left the pitch to make sure they could watch their lead team. I asked if I could watch the game and was allowed to sneak into the spectator area and watch my fellow referee handle this spectacle. He did well and I admired his calm exposure despite the smoke bombs and loud chanting from both sides at the start of the game. But then again he was accompanied by three assistants (two ARs and a 4th official). I had to work with two club ARs. Worth another blog.

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.

“Working hard for my promotion, as futsal referee” – Rodric Leerling

“Working hard for my promotion, as futsal referee” – Rodric Leerling

Last night was my second test this season to show what I’m worth as futsal referee. Demonstrating why I don’t want to stay in the current group of referees being assigned mostly lousy games with hardly any satisfaction.

Well, they picked a fitting game to test my ref skills. The away team couldn’t afford another loss in order to stay away from relegation and the home team had the same considerations, but for reasons of promotion. Quite some spectators were watching and my assessor couldn’t avoid me in the hall way. Wished me good luck and that I should’t let him down. “Just for you!” I laughed and got dressed.

From the first minute of the game I was on my toes, admonishing mostly the away team. They used all possible tactics to irritate their oponents and I started with clear public warnings, keeping the yellow cards in my pocket. The home team scored some quick goals and it went downhill for the guests from there. I was so concentrated I didn’t even hear the ‘last minute’ call from the secretary.

In 2nd half I had to issue three yellows within 10 minutes, making it hard to keep track of penalty times (player sitting on penalty seat). After their 3rd yellow they gave up. The next one would most definitely mean a red card and even more trouble. They were behind too far and they simply got tired of the high paced game. I blew the whistle for the last time and got handshakes from both teams. Looking up, I saw my assessor smiling when I wiped my forehead. If this isn’t going to be a top report, I will swallow my pink whistle.

“Penalty Shoot-Out” – Rodric Leerling

A freezing game this weekend, scheduled late at 5pm, was supposed to produce a winner. The 1/8 cup finale was between two teams from different youth leagues.

As a winner was required, pk’s were my last resort in case of a draw after 90 minutes. I was betting for a regular winner around 7pm. Cooling down while standing still at zero Celsius is no fun I can tell you.

But it still happened, and even in the dying seconds of the game. The home team playing a lower league managed to correct the early 0-1 score into a 2-1 lead in 2nd half. But they had to allow the equalizer due to a defender error.

We tossed who would start and which five players would take the pk’s. I checked the 11meter spot distance just for the record. The astro turf penalty spot was marked clearly as a big white dot. But it wasn’t at 11. I only measured 10m so I decided to measure it again, taking big strides towards the goal line: 10 meters.

What to do? I decided not to make a big fuss about it and told each player to take the pk from just behind the white dot. The away team won after all, 20 minutes later.

I made a comment to the club contact person and advised him to check it himself the next day. He said he would. I was the first ref to have made them aware of this signage error. Somebody got to do it. It happened to be me. Typical.