Friday, March 17, 2017

Ref dreams

Had a really interesting dream last night that I figured I would let you all know about, just because, not that it has a lot of tough decisions as a ref but more for the entertainment value of how one's dreams work.

Scenario was that it was a U littles game somewhere with a lot of trees. Not a field that I recognize. It is a final or some sort of knockout because in my dream, I know that there has to be a winner. Game starts and nothing interesting happens until somewhere early in the game, a player comes late and wants to come into the field. Somehow, the coach pulls all of his players off the field now that he has the new player and retreats to a corner of the pitch to talk strategy.

My in-dream persona cannot believe what I am seeing. It seems the parents take it all in stride because they retreat as well to talk among themselves. So I approach the coach and tell him he has to come out and play, since the game is taking place. Let's go. To which he says no, he does not have to bring his kids out. And then I distinctly remember telling the coach, "You have to bring out the kids to play, otherwise, I will yellow card each and every one of them."

Don't remember much after that other than going to the parents and telling them that the game was over because one team did not want to come out to play. Not sure what that means in terms of what is really going on in my head, but I just don't recall having many vivid ref dreams like this. I know I have replayed plays in my head while awake, but asleep like this, I don't think I have had many. For those that know about dream interpretation, let me know what you think all this means.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Subs and restarts

I know, 2 posts in two days is not something you see often. Well, consider me inspired. This post is in regards to probably what was my son's last travel match ever. Next season he will (hopefully) be playing in college and has already committed to a school in Virginia for soccer. Nostalgia aside, we had a couple of interesting points for the match. The center was a man I know and respect a lot. Love his no nonsense reffing style. Don't always agree with his calls, but he is one of those "old guard" type of referees. You know, honor and all that.

The two interesting things were that in about the 13th minute and with my son's team already down 2-0, a teammate of my son does a great move and gets his support foot swept right out from under him in the penalty area. Clearer PK would have been hard to conceive. Yet my friend makes no call. So he is conditioned for the next call and unfortunately gives my son's team two PKs after that missed PK call. I could justify one of the two, but it was tough to see him rattled after the first non-call. My guess is that he knew he owed the team a PK and ended up finding two.

And those things happen. You replay a call in your head at a stoppage, or at half and then "find" calls that kind of make up for the missed call. It would be easy to make each call an isolated event, irrespective of the previous call or the score of the match or any of the other million factors that we weigh every time we decide to blow or not to blow that whistle.

The other interesting thing, and one that I would love some feedback on, is the inability of some of us to not be able to shed some things that we learned way back when. Almost myths, even. Like my friend. After he made the PK call (the one that he actually decided to award), a sub was waiting at midfield and he let him in. Rules of the competition did not actually permit this, but he was going with any stoppage and no one decided to correct him. Then he states to my son's coach that the PK cannot be taken by the sub. And I have heard that before. In fact, many of us have used that before. I know that I have probably thought of it, but it is rare to have the scenario, so I cannot recall if my previous self has ever denied a sub a PK restart before.

But truth be told, the laws of the game don't say anything about that. If that were true, a sub really shouldn't be allowed to take a throw in either. Or a free kick, or a corner kick, or partake in a dropped ball, because all of these scenarios is where he or she is the first to touch it after coming off the bench. So, it is my understanding that this is a myth or a misconception that has been passed down from generation to generation and from referee to referee, but I have really yet to find it written down anywhere. Perhaps some day,  I will find it, but for right now, I think a PK restart is just the same as any other restart. At least that is what I believe. Let me know your input and I will post the results in the coming weeks or months. Also, don't expect another post tomorrow.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Self Incrimination

Ok, I am going to try and add something funny, timely, or nuanced about the something that happens at the games I attend or ref.

The first one is going to be about self-incrimination. It happened to me at a fairly high level match in Richmond a couple of weeks ago. The play was white attacking and black defending. White midfielder lofts a through pass to a streaking attacker towards the top of the box. Keeper comes out and from my angle, it looks like keeper is going to grab it without a problem. Attacker makes a really fast run however. Defender that was lofted over is facing her goalkeeper and looks over her shoulder and appears to get in the way of the attacker. Keeper picks up the ball and attacker and defender collide spectacularly.

At first thought, I was thinking defender was WAY too far from the ball to make a legitimate play but at the same time, she didn't shift her position that much and so it could be a foul on the attacker. I run over, make sure everyone is ok and I was going to ask my AR who has a better "playing distance" angle what he thought. The defender then did me a favor by saying "but I was just shielding, she didn't have to run me over."

My AR confirms that the ball was at least 5-6 yards away at the time of the collision and so I call a foul in favor of the attack. Had she kept her mouth shut, I wouldn't have known her true intentions, though I suspected them and probably would have had the foul coming out instead of going in, but she confirmed that it wasn't that the attacker just bowled her over, but she intentionally got in the way.

Coach was not at all happy, but such is life.

Next time, subs and PKs.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy New Year

Everyone, sorry I fell off the radar a bit. I have not really been inspired to write about much even though a lot has happened. I still don't have this itch that I had before, but I will try and keep writing something since there is a lot to cover. Future posts will talk about:

- New Uniforms
- Virginia's new assessment requirement
- Futsal's big push
- World Cup going to 48 countries in 2026

I will try to write up some of these in the next couple of days and post them here. Keep your thoughts coming and I will be in touch in a couple of days. And hope everyone had a great start to 2017.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Assessment and mistakes

Yesterday I did my assessment on a U17 boys match and while there was drama and a good match overall (a 2-2 tie), there wasn't much to talk about other than it was competitive and that the main criticism I received was that I was out of place in terms of passing lanes, etc. And yes, I did feel clumsy and kind of in the middle. I didn't go too deep on my AR's quadrants and that was another point of emphasis that I need to change.

However, the most interesting thing of the weekend was the match right after. I originally was not going to do the next match because I wanted the assessor to have time to give me good feedback, but when it was clear that there wouldn't be a center should I not accept, I accepted.

It was a fairly benign match between two U17 girls squads. Maybe 10 fouls all match. However, in the second half, I made a mistake that I need to learn from. White #55 was the one attacker who could generate some offence for her team. She is in the corner and there is a little bit of action where she probably was fouled, but my AR didn't indicate anything (and he was somewhat of a junior AR, so I wasn't really expecting a ton of help on foul recognition). The ball goes out to touch and he signals for a throw in for the red team. I felt like I lost the opportunity to call the foul and instead gave the throw in to the white team. Let's say it now, "don't correct a mistake with another mistake".

So on that throw in, the ball goes into the box, white chests in down and gets wiped out by a defender, very possible DOGSO, though the defender, fortunately did legitimately attempt to play the ball, so yellow card for her. But I felt like I had had a direct impact on the score. They convert the penalty and with 10 minutes left, they are up 1-0.

With 5 minutes left, red has a great through ball and the attacker gets knocked down inside the box. Not as clear cut as the other PK, but still, a PK nonetheless. White coach goes absolutely ballistic and I know the coach well, which bothered me because I thought he respected my judgement, but I think I know what happened. He wanted to have a conversation with me about the call, before the PK was taken. I later inferred that the reason he did that was to try to ice the PK taker. But I didn't walk over until after the PK (too late to change my restart, by the way) and the girl buried it for a final 1-1. It was interesting that the coach might have tried to get some gamesmanship in there, but then, perhaps if I were the coach, I would too.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Last School of Excellence class and another first

On the eve of my assessment this Sunday, I have a couple of comments to make regarding the 2 year stint I was in for the school of excellence. We held the last class a couple of weeks ago, during the first full weekend of all the leagues that needed us referees out there. One of the key improvements I hope to see for next time is to fit the classes into times when there is no refereeing going on that is needed. Perhaps hold a couple of sessions in winter, a couple in the middle of summer and one towards the end of a season. In fact, my suggestion would be something like late February, late June and early December. That way there is little chance of clashing with the start or end of a league.

The real problem is that the school of excellence in this first iteration was mainly focused on the younger kids that have a real chance of working higher level games. I see a couple of kids that are serious potential to be the next Mark Geiger or Kari Seitz but they are the minority for sure. Most of us there, young and old, are going to be Grade 6 at best and never progress from there. And I am fine with that for me, some of the younger kids with more ambitious goals may have to conform to that given the dwindling numbers you get at the higher levels. The younger kids that do some of the special tournaments that I can only dream of happen to work through Thanksgiving or some other major holiday and therefore the School of Excellence has to hold sessions when they are outside of one of those major tournaments. In this first go, it was structured to benefit the needs of the few over the needs of the many. I really don't know if I will sign up again for another two years. That would be eight weekends that I would have to attend and miss out on a lot of matches again. I will think about it long and hard, but right now, I am leaning towards a no.

On another note, I figured I would be done with all these occurrences that shouldn't happen. But the new rulebook has different opinions. One of the new rules is that if a player commits a foul or misconduct that is going to have him or her sent off, but the referee applies advantage on the play, the player is still essentially "gone" and therefore cannot participate anymore but you administer justice the next time the ball goes out of play or if the player becomes involved in active play. How often are you going to have this happen? Probably twice in your reffing career if I were to take a guess. Well, it so happens that this past tournament weekend, I was centering a match and there was one player that received a yellow for dangerously lunging at an opponent and while he made minimal contact, it was the third time he had done it, so out came the yellow. I had had a quiet word with him after the first studs up lunge with no contact. The second was more of a public "seriously, cut it out" admonishment and the third was a yellow card. In all of these instances, they had the potential of causing harm but they were still clumsy and ill timed. Had he really wanted to hurt someone, he could have done it easily. It was more of his way of trying to recover the ball. This was U17 boys travel soccer, so not the kids first rodeo for sure.

In the second half, he had calmed down quite a bit and figured he had decided to just play. But with his team down 2-0, he made a nice run towards the opponent's goal when a defender from the other team slides in and takes the ball away beautifully. The attacker though, left his leg down through the slide and therefore there was a little contact between the slide and the attacking player. The attacking player goes down and he looks at me with those "Well, are you going to call THAT?" eyes. I look at him and say "that was a great tackle, no contact so no foul". He then slams his fist on the ground and yells "I will show you a great tackle" and gets up and lunges himself again against an opponent with the ball. As he makes contact with the opponent, the opponent puts a great through ball to an onside attacker. I yell to the fouling player and the opponent that Number 5 White is gone and getting a red, do not retaliate and sprint to where the attacking play is happening.

Sure enough, the play does not develop into a goal or anything and the defense clears it up field. To White #5. The moment he touches the ball, I blow my whistle, show him the yellow for the tackle from 45 seconds ago and show him the red. In 8 years of reffing, I may have given about 12-13 red cards, and I do not recall ever giving an advantage on an eventual red card call. So I suspect that it will be another 8 years before I have this happen again, where the player becomes involved in play after being sent off but still on the field due to an advantage call. Has that happened to you?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Clarification on the new DOGSO

In my last post, I stated that I called a DOGSO PK and therefore the person committing the foul got only a yellow instead of a red card. I misspoke in a way because had that person used a push, shirt tug, or other already illegal method of stopping the player, it would have been a red card anyway. This is where I think that people are going to be a lot of confusion. I suspect that most referees will treat any DOGSO PK as a yellow and misapply the rules.

The rules state that you can commit a DOGSO PK foul and still be sent off if you handle the ball, or push, pull or do not or cannot play the ball with the tackle. In those cases, instead of a yellow, it should be a red card.

This may cause us to just go with yellow in the box, red outside, but it is much more nuanced than that. It will take some time, I believe, to have this trickle down to everyone.