Mother’s Day weekend dawned: bright, hot, clear. As often happens this time of year, Dee Dee, Matthew, and I were up early for a soccer tournament. Matthew’s club team was playing in the President’s Cup, even as his high school team wrapped up their play offs. I was going to work this tournament, in preparation for State Cup, but after getting a few subtle hints from Dee Dee, I dropped my availability.
During Matthew’s morning game, I met an old friend that was assessing the referees. This gentleman had been in the soccer bidness for upwards of thirty years. I chatted with him a bit about the state of affairs in Georgia Soccer, which also gave me the chance to whine about the new stringent testing requirements for Grade 7 referees. There are over 4,000 referees in the state, half of which are first year (Grade 9). There are only 80+ Grade 7s, and fewer than 40 grade 6 and below. We will lose half of the Grade 9s for various reasons, but most of it due to coach/parent abuse. It just didn’t make sense to me to make it “harder” to maintain a grade 7.
After Matthew’s club game, we were off to Columbus, GA and back for his high school match, which they won. I wanted to get some youth matches under my belt before State Cup, so I signed up for a match on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, this is the next round of the high school play offs, and I’ll now have to miss Matthew’s game. I admit to being disappointed, but such is the games I have to play to balance my life with that of my family.
I am looking forward to the girl’s match this evening, more so than I was the adult match I had Sunday night. My assignor had mistakenly believed I was still training for a marathon. As a result, he had been giving me mostly division 3 and over thirty/forty matches. I asked for a more competitive match for a “change of pace”.
The teams I reffed Sunday night were division 1 teams. Being of African/Caribbean ethnicity, both teams had a very casual, laid back style, and they both were very skilled. The last time I had done one of these teams, things had gotten out of hand a bit, even though it ended well. I was determined to do a better job on this game.
Part way through the match, I had to pull a player from each team aside and tell them to stop the extracurricular activities. They were kind of roughing each other up. I then proceeded to call fouls on each player whenever they touched the other. They got the message. One of the teams began to run away with the score. To keep the other team happy, I tightened up on the winning team, not giving them much lee way foul wise. I learned this technique from a very wise assessor in my first year.
After the game, the players were shaking hands with me, the assistant refs, and each other when one of the players remarked:
Wow! No red cards…
He said this in a very casual nonchalant kind of way. I caught it, but I did not respond. Inwardly, I was beaming. I’ve had players tell me how great the game I reffed was, and I’ve also had them tell me how bad I sucked. It just comes with the territory. In all our matches, we strive to have our presence felt while being as innocuous as possible. To have zero drama, and to have one of the players give such a subtle compliment is the result for which we strive. It keeps us coming back to the game.
Now, if I can just get these 12 year old girls to treat me right… They’re such trouble makers!