It’s December and I’m getting those familiar calls again: invitations to ref indoor Christmas and New Year tournaments. Whether I can help out again? Continue reading “Am I ready to ref again? – Rodric Leerling”
My insurance company was one of the first to show compassion with my knee injury. “How long did you say you have had this knee injury? Wow, almost three months without a clear diagnosis. Let’s try a 2nd opinion before you see yet another specialist.”
I felt mentally supported after seeing 3 GP’s, the orthopedist (more of his assistant). Swallowing three different anti-inflammatory drugs, getting injected with cortisone and being X-rayed and MRI-ed.
The sport medical doctor was the one to give me the obvious word: you have stressed yourself too much as referee in futsal and field football. After such a hectic season the knee can’t cope any longer and blows up. Layman’s talk.
Well, none of that. He studied both the X-ray and MRI scan in my presence. Read the accompanying GP letter with their procedures so far. Checked my swollen knee and just nodded. His verdict was shockingly direct: this is clearly not a sports related injury. At least, it’s not the way a knee reacts to being overly stressed – even after a total inner-meniscus removal (40 years ago) and a heavy season where I pushed hard to get promoted. No mechanical cause to be found, just like the orthopedist told me.
He simply would have given the same advice: go and see the reumatologist. He will probably ask for a puncture and examine the excess fluid. Maybe he has a an idea what causes the knee (and possibly other body parts) to react so vehemently. He wished me luck and said to be sorry not to be able to help any further.
And just when I wanted to hit the ‘publish’ key, the reumatologist called me if I wanted to fill a last-minute opening in his agenda. Sure, let’s do it! Seeing him in 60 minutes. To be continued.
The student doctor invited me in and left me again sitting in a small room. He had to consult his superior and left me waiting. Consulting the actual specialist who hadn’t shown his face yet despite my third visit to his assistant.
But just before the student left me, I suggested the orthopedist to come and see me this time. Which he did. But the questions he asked made me wonder if he really grasped the situation. He couldn’t find any mechanical cause to the swelling. Neither on the X-ray, nor on the MRI could he find anything that could be the root of the swelling. His job was done. He was going to refer me to a rheumatologist to see if he could find the cause of the inflammation. Goodluck and have a nice day.
It felt like a cold shower. After eight weeks of blood tests, x-rays and various medication, I was back to square one. At home, I had the urge to call my GP, and ask his opinion as he mentioned (non-classic) rheuma as possible cause, but he was on hols. I instead called my insurance company what to do. They suggested to have a sports medical consult, in the same hospital. I only needed a referral from the orthopedist or my GP. The latter being on hols, I called the orthopedist’s assistant. To my big surprise, he refused to refer me to his colleagues at the sports unit. No explanation, sorry we can’t be of help.
So now we wait for another week till my GP is back. Ask for a referral and a ‘2nd opinion’. That’s 12 weeks since the knee started swelling. I have given it a proper rest, I would say, but still no changes. Oh, and the rheumatologist can see me late September. Maybe I should give them a call as well.
I was excited and busy making plans for a great Summer football season. The field play-offs already started with a last-minute mid-week AR assignment and another AR one for this weekend. On top of that, I received a last-minute futsal play-off game to ref as well. And I was invited to a company field tournament in June and was enlisted for Beach Soccer reffing again soon. Exciting!
But then suddenly, my body told me it was enough for now. Last weekend, my right knee suddenly swelled like a balloon. No pain, just stiff and impossible to bend. Well, I thought, it sure will be better tomorrow. But it stayed bad so I had to see a doctor who did some basic tests and said the swelling could be reduced with medication. If it doesn’t change, come back next week. Bit surprised, but didn’t want to argue.
Well, it is next week now, and the knee not only still looks swollen, but is also hurting now. Medication doesn’t seem to work, so I’m planning to see the doctor again, this time to ask for physio therapy. In the meantime, I had to cancel the futsal play-off game and two field play-off games. I’m slightly worried about the rest of the upcoming field play-off games. Maybe it’s season finale for me, before it even started. Maybe I pressed myself too hard to get the futsal promotion, who knows. Combination of futsal and field games getting too much?
So, it’s time to do some other things. Write another personal blog. Visit some friends. Make myself useful around the house. Limping.
This week I received my 3rd and last ref assessment report of this futsal season. I’m proud to say, they were three pretty good and steady reports with an average of 8.20 which gets me well positioned for promotion to a higher ref league. At least, so much I was told by one of my assessors the other day.
Well, I don’t hold my breath as I’ve been here before. In fact, two years ago during a ref rule test, they asked who was ambitious and looking for ways to climb the ref career ladder? I raised my hand and was assigned three different mentors. After a couple of games, it all looked very positive, but it took forever to break the results. Vague stories increasingly sounded like an excuse and they foreboded less good news.
Then the phone rang just before the new season was about to start. My mentor started with “I know you did very well and I received really good reports about you, but…” It turned out there were five ambitious refs and only one promotion spot. The impression from the start was they were looking for fresh new refs and with a little extra mentoring we would all make it up to the next level. But for some weird reason they picked another guy and I was left in the league I was active in this season. So, even with three good new scores, I still reckon it might end up the same as last year. It will probably take another five months before they break the news.
It was an important futsal night last Friday. On the roster a real futsal champions game. I checked the tables and realized the home team being nr.1 could become champion with just a draw, whereas for their opponent, nr.2 of the table, only a win would suffice. And on top of that my 3rd assessor’s report would be drafted based on this game.
I had ordered two chairs for penalty times and moved both sub benches five meters from the middle line and told both teams that they were facing the player sub area so don’t mess around! The indoor futsal hall was slowly filling with spectators.
I even requested a linesman to help me out. This is only required at next level games, but I didn’t want to take chances. The guy who was planned to be my secretary offered to take on this role while a former player was told to handle the scoreboard and clock. When I saw his sullen face, I suddenly realized I knew him as I had cautioned him in the past for dissent. A bad omen. OK, so this is how you start and stop the clock. And give me the last minute ok?
The game was tense from both sides but I hardly made any errors and was in full control. No cautions needed, so the chairs stayed empty. The shit hit the fan at the end of 1st half when the secretary forgot to give me ‘my last minute’. And shortly after, at the start of the 2nd half, he now forgot to start the clock and only after me shouting across the hall he did with 10 secs delay. Everything went fine and the home team was hitting home fast to become champion and get promoted to 1st class.
But my lousy secretary wasn’t paying attention again and he forgot to stop the clock at the last minute. Being fully concentrated, I noticed this immediately and started shouting across the hall to stop ‘the bloody thing’. And just when I looked up and then to my secretary, a home player took revenge (at least that I was told later) and tackled a guest player exactly at the same time. I only saw him drop and scream of pain, but didn’t see what caused it. I was still yelling at my lousy secretary, running across the hall and suddenly realized I missed a massive foul.
Spectators and players were yelling and screaming for justice. Why no cards ref? Come on, at least yellow? I quickly decided a free kick which seemed the minimum to everyone around me, but I didn’t know what else to do. I just ran the last 50 secs of the game with a deep feeling of frustration. The home team had won fairly easy and were celebrating their earned promotion. The away team realized they had just lost against a much better team.
Handshakes from both teams but I was still dazed and confused. I told the linesman that I was very upset about the stand-in secretary letting me down so badly. But he didn’t seem to care as the champagne bottles were popping and he just thanked me for a good game and walked away. Would the assessor have recorded what happened (from my perspective)? If not, I’m toast and can forget the hard worked promotion. All for nothing.
There are mainly two reasons why players can get irritated during a game: having either a lousy or a very good referee. They sometimes hope for the first so they can air their daily frustrations, but pray for the latter in order to fully focus on their own performance.
The good referee sometimes wonders why he is criticized from scratch. It can get him totally out of his balance sometimes. Even when he recognizes the small nasty fouls and clearly shows he can’t be fooled. Especially when he is in great condition, concentrated on each game no matter the league level, and equal and fair in his decisions.
I tell myself often I should ignore players’ comments, knowing I’m a good ref. But last weekend I got the official word from a player: sorry ref, you are just doing a very good ref job. We are getting irritated because you figured us out, recognizing the little fouls which other refs just let go. Please accept our apologies.
I was flabbergasted. But satisfied at the same time. I should stick to my game plan and stay focused.
It’s almost done with football indoors, or ‘futsal’ as we call it these days. Same goes for outdoor football (soccer) by the way. And you would guess problems with player passes would not play up anymore.
Well, not in my game last night. I did the usual field check and asked coaches to point me the player on my screen. It started with the away coach who had a question: “What to do when you spot new players in the opponent’s team?” Well, for me as ref, nothing else than checking the passes, which I’m going to do now. Keep you posted.
The home coach had only three players on his digital form which he sent to my app (the minimum required to play). Oh, sorry ref, can you add four more, I had some admin problems at home. Sure, I can. Just tell me their names. Of the four he wanted to add, only two showed up in the system. Ehhhm, that’s strange, they played all season and suddenly they are not recognized. We tried again, checked the spelling of their surnames. Nothing.
Walking back and forth, coach telling me (and the parents watching) it’s all my problem, my app, the futsal association etc. Delaying the game start with eventually 20 minutes, I forced them to make up their minds. They were about to cancel the game because they didn’t feel like playing with five (normal team but no subs) against a strong team they lost against last time. Well coach, it’s either walking away and get fined or playing and losing again. Not my decision. He wisely decided to play. And lost 2-12. What a loser.
Last night I was assigned to replace a colleague ref on two late night futsal games. Maybe he preferred watching Champions League or the outcome of the Dutch national elections. Two events close to my heart, but I decided to go refereeing anyhow. I need this distraction.
The hall was still empty when I arrived, so this game could have been scheduled earlier. Checked the digital player passes and got the game on track. The away team was ranking low, whereas the home team was close to promotion. But the away team scored early goals and got the other team frustrated. The game needed my full concentration from scratch.
This focus helped me to spot a handball near the home team goal: yellow and penalty kick. Made the call and got compliments from the home team for spotting it and taking the correct measures. But they eventually made more fouls and I had to send off three of their players in total with yellow.
I ignored all their comments and showed yellow where appropriate. The game resulted in a narrow one goal difference victory by the away team. Handshakes from most of them, but still a talking home captain and goalie. I told them I heard enough and said I now understood why the futsal FA sent me to this game. He looked at me surprised. “Seriously? Are we being scrutinized?” He walked off steaming.
I was already into my second game when I saw him walking towards me with his sports bag and wet hair. With a smile this time and a hand on my shoulder. “Sorry ref, we were a bit frustrated.” Sure, I understand, I said. “But what was that about the FA and you reffing us?” Ha ha, got you bro. I pulled your proverbial leg and you went for it. He laughed and wished me a good night. I used my second game to cool down and left for home with a great feeling.
Rewinding the film, I realized I’d seen her twice shortly before the game. First when I was trying to find a door to the futsal area, and she walked by just ignoring me. Once in the hall, she again crossed my path installing the score board, again, not saying a word.
It turned out to be the U19 home team coach. No handshake, no introduction. Nothing. It happens once in a while. But after only 3 minutes the war broke out. At this game level, a game secretary is required along with a linesman. The latter was nowhere to be seen, the male secretary I had to explain how to start the clock.
In the 3rd minute, after the score became 1-1, I realized my secretary had disappeared. An empty desk and I was on the other side ready to whistle for kick-off. Demanding the hometeam to adjust the score. She shouted back “if you ask gently we can do it for you”. Ignorant woman. Don’t you know what is required at this game level? I told her to reinstall the secretary because I wasn’t going to do it. The guy returned and would not leave the remaining 47 minutes.
Again two minutes later, we rubbed into each other once more. This time much closer. Her players were standing next to the bench and I asked them to be seated, in passing. They didn’t. I asked again and she would tell her players the opposite and keep standing “as they would be subbed soon” and “I’m in charge of this”. I exploded and told her to have them sit down as it was me in charge of the whole thing, not her. And this was the second time we had a conflict. They were seated.
I always leave a little present for obnoxious people like this. I deliberately gave an out-ball to the other team. She screamed to me to be more alert. This time I ignored her with a smile. The home team won the game and finally she would finally shake my hand.