This past weekend, they were having a State sponsored soccer tournament at Lovejoy, GA. This is about an hour from my house, south of Atlanta. I ignored the first email. This tournament is for Classic 3 and Classic 4 teams that will not be going to State Cup. I figured there would be plenty of refs down south to handle the games. About mid week, I got another plantive email asking for more help. I checked my schedule and realized that I had all day Saturday to ref. I let the assignor know and was immediately rewarded with four games.
Early Saturday morning, I got up at 5:30, left by 6:15, and made the hour long drive to Lovejoy. My first and only boys match of the day was a U-14 game between a Classic 4 team from Blue Springs, GA, and a Classic 3 team from Carrolton, GA. Now, if you know anything about soccer, you know that 13 year old kids that play at this level spend most of the game trying to control their body as much as the ball. Their skills are still developing. The coaches are usually what we call "Daddy Coaches", and they don't know much about the game either. I am not belittling them. Soccer is an all inclusive sport, and we welcome those who want to play, participate in, and enjoy "The Beautiful Game".
The game started out pretty normal. There was the usual amount of clumsiness and fouls that I let go because it either did not affect the game or I just wasn't going to blow my whistle every two minutes and stop the game. I let the kids play, called what I needed to call, and ensured a fair match. A couple of the players from both teams identified themselves as players to watch by running their mouths at me and/or playing recklessly. By half time, the Carrolton team was up two to nothing. I expected a blow out.
Shortly after the start of the second half, the Blue Springs team came back and scored two quick goals. That was when things got intense. I had blown a foul against the attacking team in the defender's half of the field. During the ensuing free kick, one of the attacker's made a run at the ball before the kick. This is a no-no in soccer. You have to stay 10 yards away from the ball until the kick is taken. I know this, and I also know that at higher levels, I would give the player an instant yellow card for that behavior. At this level, not so much. If it doesn't affect play, I let it go and have a word with the player at the next available opportunity.
Right after the kick was taken, one of the Carrolton coaches on the side lines erupts.
He can't do that! That's an immediate yellow card!! You can't let him do that...
Lucky for me, unfortunately for the coach, play stopped shortly there after, close to the benches. I was a bit angry.
Do NOT YELL AT ME AGAIN! I said in a loud angry tone.
Do not do anything to distract these players and these parents from this game! If the behavior affects play, I will blow my whistle. If it does not, then be quiet and let the players play. It is not an automatic yellow card unless I say it is.
The minute the coach had my full attention, he looked like a deer in head lights. He said not a word. It is pretty common knowledge that the more inexperienced refs run Classic 3 and 4 level games and recreational soccer matches. I'm not sure what this coach thought was going to happen, but he bit off more than he could chew.
Five minutes later, I had to admonish the Carrolton head coach not to complain about calls and to give me a chance to blow my whistle. It makes me look bad to blow my whistle after they complain. One last admonishment not to talk to the other teams players, and the rest of the game proceeded smoothly. I ended up yellow carding one player from Carrolton for dissent, and one player from Blue Springs for a particulary nasty tackle.
The game ended with a Carrolton victory, as it should have. They were the better team. The Carrolton coach apologized for his staff being so excitable. I acknowledged his apology and said that I understood. I was used to that kind of excitement. The coach from the other team came to me three times and told me how that was the best reffed game of the season for them, even on their home fields. When the losing coach sings your praises, you know you did something right.
and with three more matches in the day, I got plenty of training in....