Title: Instead of Becoming An Assistant Coach ...
Liggie - September 19, 2006 01:19 AM (GMT)
... I became a referee!
Last month, my brother approached me about being an assistant for his 2nd-grade (U-8) team in the local Catholic school league, but another parent volunteered his services. But in this league, the home team has to provide the referee, so I accepted the role as match referee for the first two matches. This was my first on-field involvement with soccer since I was cut for my high school team many moons ago, so I was eager to re-enter active soccer participation.
Saturday was my first match as an aspiring Pierluigi Collina. Clad in shorts, maroon Arsenal sweatshirt, and cheap sunglasses (dirt field, I wear contact lenses), I blew the whistle for the five-a-side match between the home St. Louise "Chargers" and visiting Holy Family "Cougars". Though the field was a small, "microsoccer" size (20x30 yards, with ice hockey-sized goals), I found myself doing more running than I had expected, and despite the crisp weather worked up quite a good sweat in the 40-minute game (four 10-minute quarters, with open substitutions).
I ended up being more of an on-field assistant coach to the two teams than being a ref. The league's instructional sheet I read said that "players of this age are completely honest and have no concept of the intentional foul" -- imagine if the pros played like this! -- and as there were no illegalities other than accidental handballs, I just called throw-ins, corners and goal kicks. The fun part there was kibbitzing with the coaches as to kid would restart play, making sure that everyone got a chance (which the kids appreciated), and even instructing how to kick off to teammates on a few occasions. "Do I kick straight ahead?" "No, turn to your teammates behind you, and kick the ball to them". "OK!"
The only rough part was that St. Louise would've routed Holy Family if we kept score, and at halftime the long faces on the Cougars were evident. HF's coach asked if there was a way we could help out to make the game more fun for his kids -- which is what this level is all about, of course -- so my brother instructed his team to concentrate on defense and not worry about scoring, and I purposely gave Holy Family the questionable throw-in calls, and even shouted out encouragement on good plays ("Nice kick, #23!"). It did work. The Cougars got three goals in the second half, and in "stoppage time" even stood three in front of the goal and made some pretty courageous goalline clearances. I wouldn't help out like that for the older levels, of course, but at this stage where egos are fragile, it wasn't a big deal.
I was pretty happy. The kids had a ball, I got enough exercise to forego my elliptical machine for the day, and when the opposing coaches said "Good job, ref" when I blew time, I knew I did a satisfactory job. Missed a couple of calls here and there, but that happens. Now all I have to do better for the next game on Saturday is stretch beforehand; I'm still feeling it in my legs, even 55 hours later.
AMERICANS ON SOCCER
"It's a ball, it's supposed to get muddy!" -- one of the St. Louise Chargers, regarding the muddy game ball that I tried to clean off; it was kicked out of bounds, hit the one puddle in the parking lot, and tracked sand when it was returned to the dirt field
Pablo Chicago - September 19, 2006 02:08 PM (GMT)
Congrats on your first game Mike! Please consider a career in MLS. We could use a few decent officials. ;)
jtgulls - September 20, 2006 03:50 PM (GMT)
Well done Liggie.
Mr. Bell will surely feature you on EiLA now that you are his brother with a whistle (or flag).
henry5 - September 20, 2006 05:43 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Pablo Chicago @ Sep 19 2006, 10:08 AM)|
| Congrats on your first game Mike! Please consider a career in MLS. We could use a few decent officials. ;) |
Just ask my 9 year old!
jtgulls - October 4, 2006 06:22 PM (GMT)
Liggie - again congratulations and thanks.
I was at the park a couple Saturdays back picking up some forms when one of the young refs called and said he was running late. So as not to back up the schedule of rec league matches, one of the coordinators asked me if I could work a match of the 10 year olds.
I did and my head was spinning. It was only a rec league match but the kids give it their all and there was a lot happening. I was very glad to see the young ref arrive before I had to referee a second match!
My hat is off to you referees. You do a great job and should receive the thanks of all players, coaches and fans - but don't let Mr. Bell know I said this.
Liggie - October 13, 2006 06:50 AM (GMT)
Refereed my second game a week after the first game. Again, I was more of an onfield assistant coach than a ref and didn't call fouls in order to keep the game moving (this is U-8, plus we had to be off the field by 11 a.m.). But there were some interesting situations that arose. I'd like your comments, assuming these happened in a level where I would actually make calls.
1. One player named Gianna (where else but in Catholic youth leagues do you get players named Gianna?) never threw the ball in to a teammate, but instead threw it in a foot in front of her and dribbled it into play. Legally, Gianna would be required to throw it to a teammate and not to herself? (If so, I'll make her do it over next time.)
2. What's the rule on unintentional / "self-defense" handballs? One player put his hands in front of him to avoid the ball smacking him in the face, and it struck him in the hands. He immediately looked at me, a frightened hand-in-the-cookie-jar expression on his face. To keep play moving, I called play on and told him to be careful next time. At a higher level, though, would this be an indirect kick, a direct kick, even a card? And if this was in the area, do I point to the spot?
3. As a player prepared for a goal kick, an opponent stood about three feet in front of him. Coaches and/or parents from the goalie's team yelled, "Hey ref, isn't he supposed to be 10 yards away?" I had the opponent take several steps back to appease them, but I didn't recall such a rule. Were they correct, that on goal kicks the keepers / kickers are allowed 10 yards distance from the nearest opponent?
4. One player took a hard shot on her arm and started crying. I was going to wait for the ball to bounce out of play before I blew my whistle, but common sense quickly took over and I stopped play before the ball reached touch. (At that age, I broke my arm in the exact same manner; boy, did I get some flashbacks!) After the player was taken off the field for examination -- don't worry, she was OK and played again later -- I wasn't sure how to restart, and decided on a drop-ball at the point the ball was when I whislted play down. Was this the correct call according to the letter of the law? (By the way, explaining a drop-ball to U-8 players is a bit of a challenge. "It's like a basketball jump ball, except with your feet" seems to work.)
siralfred - October 14, 2006 01:26 AM (GMT)
1. You're right - she can't throw to herself. And U8 is NOT too early to learn proper throw-ins.
2. That's a direct kick, or penalty if in the area. Too harsh to call it on the kids, though.
3. The 10 yard rule applies to free kicks and corners. For the goal kick all opponents must be outside the penalty area. Where my kids play we don't use the penalty area through U10 so the rule is 14 yards instead.
4. At this level, attending to player injuries is paramount. The drop-ball is the fairest restart. Good call!
Most youth leagues use the FIFA "Laws of the Game"
with exceptions for certain ages. Is your league sanctioned by, or affiliated with, any Youth Soccer organization? They should have a booklet or something for you.