Most important reason to join the FA ref coach course was to be able to help young refs with their new hobby. My active sports time is almost over and it’s time to share my experience and help the rookie refs making it up the ladder faster.
This weekend, I was assigned to a rookie ref who just oozed being a potential top referee. He had to deal with the usual admin hassle with player passes and getting everyone on the field in time. At this lower level that’s nothing new and soon this will get more professional. We had a brief chat before the game and the rookie ref challenged me immediately with a disputed call he saw on TV the other night. He explained the situation clearly and told me he agree with the ref decision. From what he described to me it became obvious he knew how to evaluate a situation and take a decision fast.
I analysed the pitch before he could and left an obvious net problem to be reported. Which he in fact did and he asked the field marshal to correct it. The U-15 game itself wasn’t too difficult, mostly because he noticed most of the fouls and was consequent in his calls. In our brief half-time chat I warned him that the shirt pulling and pushing might get out of hand and he might have to be more strict in his calls. Twenty minutes in the 2nd half it happened: an attacker was pushed down clearly in the box and the rookie ref pointed to the penalty kick spot. And remarkably hardly anybody complained.
He left the pitch after 90 minutes with a big smile. I complimented him on a great game. He thanked me kindly for my help and the suggestions made. I told him I would keep my eyes on the rosters to see him climb the ref career ladder. A future top referee, no doubt.
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.
The Dutch FA is increasingly adding info bits to the referee assignment platform. Every time a report is submitted, you now get an email, while in the old days you had to guess when an assessor had visited your game and wrote a report on your performance.
To my surprise (and slight worry) a new report appeared on my last weekend’s game, reffing U16 boys at a Dutch professional football club. The weather predictions were slightly better for PM so I gambled on using specs instead of lenses. Bad mistake. We were hit by rain and hailstorm during 1st half. But no comment from the assessor about it. I changed to lenses in 2nd half and it staid dry. Typical.
In the 3-4 reports per season we are awarded points in 11 categories with letters A-E, A being highest, E lowest. My score this time: 10xA and 1xB is an exceptional good score. I will keep my promotion aspirations alive but know also I’m competing against former pro refs winding down their career and awarded games in the Pro Youth League. I’m serving as their stand-in. Two of these games per season compensate however for sometimes lousy and difficult games in lower leagues.
While working and living in New Jersey, I used my skills and experience in soccer crazy Holland to ref games on weekends. It became an excellent way to discover the state of NJ and meet lots of people, starting with colleague refs, different level of teams and team coaches. So many good memories and also lots of weird situations unthinkable in the Dutch football tradition. I decided to record them and collect them into a booklet. Still available in the MijnBestseller store.