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’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.
It felt like another satisfying game last weekend. A pretty good U17 match under nice Spring weather conditions. But not everyone would agree. As usual.
Once on the pitch, the home coach shook my hand and asked me if I hadn’t reffed them before this season. I confirmed but wasn’t sure which game exactly. He suddenly seemed to realize something and took his AR apart and started a secret looking conversation. Was he telling his club AR how to support me?
Maybe he remembered my stubborn way of reffing, not blindly following the (often biased) AR signals. So what would his advice be, exactly? I didn’t want to eavesdrop, but guessed he had just two options: either be very honest especially on off-sides, and thus gaining my confidence. Or wave the flag from kick-off on anything that looked suspicious. Again, I’m just guessing, but I assume he took the first option, for at least 60 minutes, right until the away team scored the well deserved equalizer (1-1). His flag was up and I heard shouts of “hands ref!” As I hadn’t seen anything, I signaled him to drop the flag. And he should know why, as the instructions were clear: no signals from the AR for fouls, especially in the box.
The home team soon after started wiping the floor with their opponents, scoring four more goals and I decided to call it a day after the official 80 minutes and score 1-5. The away team was complimenting me with a “terrific game”. The home coach, though, walked towards me clearly hesitating whether he would shake my hand. I didn’t wait for his decision, but just reached out to him, leaving him no choice. He started to say something about fouls I missed, but I immediately ‘overruled’ him saying I thought it was a great game, despite his teaming losing big time. He shouldn’t complain. He nodded and wished me a good weekend. See you around coach!
I had a relatively easy game last Saturday, reffing two teams in the Dutch U15 national pro youth league. Interesting to know: the home team are the only amateur club playing in this competition. The guests from the north were so smart to mumble during meet&greet that this might be changed soon and only professional clubs would be allowed to play from next year. Big frowns all around me.
The game itself was ‘do or die’ for the guest team. Losing this game would bring them closer to relegation and their opponents were just ranked above them, hence a true 6 points game. A game packed with scouts all around the pitch. Several of the home team players were offered contracts to play for pro-teams from next season, I was told. At the start of the game, I told both captains I would keep a close eye on holding and pushing, but would prefer to play advantage in order to keep the game rolling.
As a result, I was shouting ‘play on’ almost every 5 minutes of the game, whenever possible, and tried to keep the number of free kicks to a minimum. No comments or complaints from any player as they knew when a foul was committed, hearing me shout ‘play on’. After several verbal warnings for holding, I had to eventually issue two yellow cards for it, one to each team. Quite a logical outcome of having been tolerant, but with a clear limit.
Big was my surprise, though, when I returned to the admin area to register the subs, yellow cards and 0-0 score. The away couch told me he didn’t like my strict refereeing with the many free kicks. My mouth dropped. Was he talking about another game perhaps? Nope, my game. I told him I had never in my career played on advantage so often. And I didn’t share his game experience at all. “Well, we are all allowed to have our opinions, can’t we ref?” he ended the short conversation. I left it there, realizing he must have been very disappointed to have made the 2x2hr drive for a useless 0-0 draw. Somebody had to be blamed. I happened to be me. As usual.
I have a confession to make: I hate shopping. As long as I remember, I have tried to limit my time spent in shops. I feel sorry for the many retail outlets collapsing lately and employees loosing their jobs. But ever since they came to life, I prefered visiting webshops like Amazon and Bol.com.
Still, whether it’s bricks&mortar or e-retail, I sometimes wonder how I’m being influenced in my every-day purchase decisions. Questions like what colour is popular, which brand is current, which company is acting sustainable, etc. should play a role in my mental algorithms. But I’m not really aware of them. Still, these individual online preferences are stored and sold again – all in split seconds – to companies trying to create a profile and sell to me again online.
Luckily, I’m pretty down-to-earth when it comes to buying stuff. The car simply has to do its transport job, and I’m pretty brand loyal. The next running shoes shouldn’t be too expensive and specific colors are of no real value. Shirts and underwear are preferably ordered online so nobody needs to know my preference (apart from Google of course). Electronics and printer cartridges are ordered with my fav webshop and delivered the next day.
Lately, I have been tempted to work from another location than my Home Office, in one of the many office spaces offered to sole-traders like me. Good coffee, buzzing environment, many start-ups and sole-traders working close to you. I have been to a few lately and realised I still prefer my Home Office and get out regularly, meeting other people. Concentration and not being distracted. And I love the view from my loft studio!
My game developed as an almost perfect ref match. A lousy game for the two teams, but I felt myself in full control. At least I thought.
Two U19 teams were not playing their best game. Especially the guest goalkeeper messed up regularly. But they still managed to score first. The guests would counter score fast during 2nd half.
I created some confusion at the toss after quickly telling the captains I would not grant goalkeepers the ‘right’ to build a wall. The fouled party should indicate to me whether a wall should be put at 10 yards distance. If not, they could start at their own decision. The fouling party has no right to slow down the restart any further.
“So we can’t build a wall ref?” Sure, but if the fouled team wants to take it, I won’t stop them because you want to build a wall. Ah, a new rule insight!
And then it became dark and it started to rain. Many things started to run through my mind. The home club AR made a mess of his job and I decided to ignore him instead of replacing him. I had to start using my cards. And within 20 mins the same guest player was booked with yellow. But somehow I didn’t notice it on my scorecard. I allowed the free kick to be taken and saw the booked player taking off his shirt and walking off the pitch. Huh? I heard players yelling it was his second yellow an I stopped the game. Looked at my hard to read scorecard and almost swore to myself. Searched for the red card and showed him off, just after he thought I would not notice my omission.
But where were we? The free kick had ended at the other team’s goal. The home coach went ballistic. “Ref! What’s going on?” I ignored him for now and allowed the game play on, despite restarting at the wrong spot. No time to rewind the film and take the gamble.
Minutes later I blew the final whistle and got many handshakes. The furious coach asked for an explanation, which I honestly gave him. He calmed down once he heard he was right but just too loud at the time. We shook hands and he made sure they really won 5-4. Narrow escape indeed.
It’s been a while since my last referee assessment. Especially for my futsal referee activities.
To my surprise, I just noticed an assessor is assigned to watch and report my futsal game performance next week. That’s one year after the previous report. I double checked and indeed, my last futsal report was Feb 2016. Have they forgotten me? Have I ended up in the ‘deplorables’ category?
Frankly speaking, I don’t really care. I tried to get up one league last year and was put in a special promotion group but was let down by my mentor. The games I’m reffing are mostly handled nicely, with some exceptions due to obnoxious teams or coaches, or sometimes me being not 100% focused. I know most of the time who is to blame and apologize if it was me.
But to make it one more step up, more is required than just reffing a good game. Consider these elements that keep cropping up in reports: making it to the base line regularly, taking correct game management steps (yellow cards, even when advantage is given). Crossing over for a re-start closer to your current sideline. Making sure the subs are done in a proper manner. Using right whistle tones and proper hand signals. Making sure the right distance is being taken at all restarts (5m). Talking to players in a polite but straight way (eye-to-eye). Showing a calm posture in everything. Counting at restarts (4sec) especially when the goalkeeper possesses the ball. And this is all done by just you. No assistants, no colleague refs. Just you. Sometimes in a pressure cooker game of 2×25 minutes.
Do I want to make that step up? Good question. My ego says ‘yes’, but never know what assessors make of it.
I will let you know after reading my first futsal report in 12 months.
Always have a good story ready. That’s what, in my opinion, a true salesman has to do every day. Not just an elevator pitch and consequent sales story, but preferably an anecdote or cracking joke. Just to elevate the atmosphere or simply get people’s attention by surprise.
I seem to have a good, associative memory for jokes and also seem to know when to tell the right one. The one I most often tell came back in the mental ‘joke-carousel’ when I saw the pope recently, shaking hands during one of his visits abroad. My hero for this particular joke, Mr. Johnson, who’s a good friend of the pope, is eventually recognized by a total stranger on St. Peter’s Square while the pope is just labelled as ‘that guy in the white dress’. I know the long version and the short version of the joke, by the way.
After telling jokes like this, people regularly burst into laughter. They experienced an unexpected twist in a story, realized it is indeed funny, and let go of their emotions. You got their attention now, with their brain focused on what else you have to tell. And they already like you, even before you started the serious part.
I bet you will ask me to tell another one of these great jokes next time we meet. I’ve got a few more, I promise. But always expect a serious (sales) story to follow. One you won’t be able to forget either.
Every weekend, photographers around football pitches are busy taking pictures. Either of their kids or to record certain game moments. And sometimes refs like me check a club website afterwards and get the chance to download a high-res pics for their own collection.
This past weekend, though, I noticed a guy with a video camera walking around the pitch. At first I didn’t take much notice of it, until the last bit of the 1st half when things became sightly hectic in front of the home goal. Our video man was positioned just behind the goal. An attack by the guests ended with a player falling to the ground just before the goal, without hitting it. Was he pushed? Did he just give up and drop? I just couldn’t tell and shouted to ‘play on’ and as result got the away team and their supporters all calling for a penalty kick.
Shortly after, I blew the whistle for half time and in the corner of my eye I noticed the video man sharing his recordings with the away Assistant Referee. My AR nodded and walked me off the pitch trying to start a polite conversation. “Looking at the video, it really was a penalty kick ref” he tried. I immediately stopped his effort to convince me of my wrong observation. “No video, I’m not interested and I sure didn’t hire a VAR”. He understood and left me withdraw to my dressing room.
In the 2nd half, a much clearer foul by the home team resulted in a pk for the away team, but that didn’t help them ultimately win the game. After the final whistle was blown, the away AR handed his flag back to me, shook hands and just smiled. Guess he learned a lesson and I hope he will refrain from using his secret weapon against referees in future.