Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friends in Strange Places

With Dee Dee working sixty plus hour weeks, I find myself back in the not so unfamiliar role of Mr. Mom.  My life revolves around work, training, my kid's soccer practices and games, and similar stuff.  Every once in a while, I clean a small part of the house.

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....

20 comments:

An Athlete In Training said...

Refs out there who know what they are doing? Next you are going to tell me unicorns exist too...

Always enjoy reading your random stories about soccer / reffing, takes me back!

Lily on the Road said...

Right on Wes, let the kids play unless they are REALLY being bad, as for the parents, you handled it perfectly...

Wish there were more active, non bullying concerned parents involved in kids sports

Kim said...

nice job keeping cool ref wes! all this soccer talk brings me back to my player days - i miss it!

Gotta Run said...

Just reading that gets my BP up. You handled it very well!!!

Maybe I need a whistle in my life ...lol!

Carolina John said...

that's cool wes. sounds like you certainly got plenty of running miles in. it's tough to get a losing coach to say anything nice to anybody.

Backofpack said...

Where's the "like" button?

Nicely done Wes - love it when you get to teach adults too.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

My husband reffed soccer back with the kids played (up until a few years ago). I understand where you are coming from. Not to mention, the rules are worded something like "If in the opinion of the referee.."

Good job this weekend!

Missy said...

I love watching the parents the most, I think. They think their kid is going to the freakin Olympics or something. They get so bent out of shape.

Jennifer Harrison said...

Sometimes the parents are the WORSE. There are 2 lines for the parents on the sidelines...and it is pretty far from the field - so that we "behave." I am screaming like a crazy person during soccer games, BUT rarely at the refs. But, then again, these kids are 7...what is that important, reallY? glad you like it though, !!! :)

Runner Leana said...

I think you definitely did the right thing by letting the kids play as much as possible. You still want the kids to have fun out there on the field! Nicely handled out there Wes.

Smithposts said...

Adults sure seem to muck things up a bit when it comes to their kids sport activities. Sounds like you were the level head in this situation!

Nice acknowledgement of respect from the coaches!!

Jess said...

Wes, your ref stories help provide me with a whole new perspective on the game. I played soccer for years when I was growing up, and we always viewed the refs as the devil.

Blaine Moore said...

Nice work, Wes - great story.

Michelle said...

Definitely sounds like you know what you're doing. Glad you got that pat on the back that you so clearly deserved : )

Jess said...

Sounds like you reffed a fair game to me. You're right at a higher level, the automatic yellow would have been the right thing to do, but I mean these are still just kids! Nice job Mr. Official! :o)

teacherwoman said...

The parents along the sidelines are usually the ones that really get to me. Some of their comments or gestures make me uncomfortable, can you imagine how their child feels?!?


Thanks again for the monetary donation to Tour de Cure! Very much appreciated!

Michelle said...

So are you trying to say you know how to ref a soccer game??

Or you just think you do??

:O)

Nice job Wes!!!

Calyx Meredith said...

Great validation there from the losing coach! They were lucky to have you and it seems like they knew it. Yay!

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

The number one rule of any official - make your call (or non-call) and stick with it. The moment you show any indecisiveness to a player or coach, you are done for and nobody will take you seriously. Nice job!

Joe said...

Great story Wes. As a retired soccer ref, I really enjoy this.

When you said the defender ran in on the free kick, I was reaching for my yellow card!! You had better judgement at the moment..good for you. They still got two cards.

Experience counts... good job!!