The two female teams last night were from the same club. Team 1 playing team 2, wearing the same green shirts. As soon as they walked into the futsal arena (5 minutes before game start), I started shaking my head and they noticed it.
Due to holidays, people sick, injured etc. had neither team thought about bringing alternative color shirts. But they had a solution: one team would wear a single red ribbon. But this ref said “sorry, computer says ‘no'” and let them come up with a better solution. Quickly please or else I would cancel the game.
Then they came up with a surprising solution: the home team would take their shirts off. I didn’t want to ask the embarassing question what they were wearing underneath, but had a hunch. No problem sir, we all have black tank tops and will use them. Suddenly, shirts were taken off, ladies in bra’s running around, and then there was a black tank top team vs a green team. We started 10 minutes late.
To my surprise they played a pretty good game and scored some nice goals. I was impressed, both by their creativity and their futsal skills. Serious.
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.
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.
Every once in a while I have to ref veteran futsal teams. It’s confronting with my own age and I highly respect futsal players with an average age of 55.
But don’t underestimate them as they can be very demanding. But you can slow down as referee as the speed is much lower than an average game. And they don’t get a referee very often, they told me. So now I was available, they thought they could start calling for even the lightest things, half of them I would ignore or wave off.
The most remarkable player last week was the home team goalie. I guess he must have been 60+, measuring against my own (misleading) age looks. The beatings he took! Unbelievable when you consider the kind of balls that are being fired on a futsal goal, even by veteran players.
These veteran players have been playing for some years and are just slowing down. But not when hitting a goal I can tell you. The old man screamed, begging almost, to stop these balls earlier. He got them in his stomach, on his legs and arms, but kept his team going by stopping the opponent heroically. I showed him my admiration afterwards and he just smiled. Glad he could still do it and if he had to suffer from the bruises for a few days, so be it. I promised to tell the U16 team next time!
While checking the player passes before last week’s (adult) match, I noticed two similar last names and dito faces. In futsal, many teams play with siblings, so I didn’t really take further notice of it.
The game, however, proved to be a difficult one with lots of fouls, resulting in three yellow cards (= 2 mins penalty time). Especially the twins in the home team behaved obnoxious but at first I couldn’t tell whether it was the same one or if they took turns. One of them started shaking his head during 2nd half indicating he didn’t agree with anything I decided. Reason enough to warn him with yellow, but gentle as I am, I just told him to stop that behavior and called out his number to make sure I had the right one.
Three minutes before full time, he accidentally tripped an opponent. A light foul and normally no reason to pull the yellow card, but I was so fed up with this bloke I decided to take revenge for his dissent and sent him off with hardly time left to come back in the game and support his team. He exploded but had no choice. His team lost the game with only 1 goal difference. I didn’t feel any guilt. Good riddance.
In hindsight, I should have started much earlier. I reached my career ceiling since I’ve hit the 50 year age bracket. And now it’s too late. Too late for a serious career at least, but still plenty of time to have fun doing it! On grass, on sand and indoors.
I still remember a slow Saturday afternoon, some 20 years back, when I watched a local football match go wrong because the referee just stood there in the middle, mainly signalling in and out-balls and copying his assistants’ calls for off-side. That should be done better, I thought, but was too busy with my career. Years later, when we moved to another town, I decided to pick up my fav sport and first became U12 coach.
Two years later I decided to go for the Dutch ref badge and start reffing on weekends instead. Another switch was made last year after having had several tricky games with adults. I’m now working mainly U18 and U16 games. Mostly as stand-alone ref, but play-offs happen with 3 neutral refs, thank goodness. I envy the US refs who always work with a ref trio. Something I did for 4 half seasons while living in New Jersey.
This passed season 2013/14 produced one major game incident that shook my ref constitution. A collective fight out of the blue between the teams resulted in a temporarily suspended game. Reports written from various parties produced a heavy penalty on which both teams appealed and the appeal court sentenced a lower penalty because not all reports could be proven.
I’m still enthusiastic and driven to give my best and report back when things are not according to the rules of the game.