For the last month or so, I've taken on a bit of a different approach to working out. During the holidays, it was difficult to get out and find time to run. Part of the difficulty in finding such time was soccer. I'd gotten into refereeing high school soccer games and that took a big chunk of time usually in the middle of the day.
While I've blogged about the fitness aspects of officiating before, I've not gotten you up to speed on the officiating itself. So I figured I'd take the time to do so now.
At first, I was nervous about it. Quite nervous. If you were around for the days leading up to my first game, you know how the nerves got to me and affected me. It wasn't a very fun time, to be honest. But once I got tossed into the fray, I had no choice but to adapt.
And I have. Slowly but surely, I'm feeling more and more comfortable out on the soccer field with a whistle in my hand. Now, I'm not quite there yet, not quite 100 percent comfortable and I honestly don't think I will be comfortable this season. I think I need to get a year or two under my belt until I reach that point. Mostly it's because I feel like I need to encounter as many different situations as possible so I know how to handle them, and each game it seems like something different happens, something that I haven't encountered before. For instance recently, I had a game where the goalie fell to the ground and a goal was scored. I didn't look at the goalie to see if players were on him and holding him down but simply fixed my gaze on the ball to see if it was going to cross the goal line or not. Next time, I'll look at both the ball and the goalie.
Basically I have one rule, one mantra I live by out there - Don't Mess Up. All I need to do is call the game correctly and not miss anything major. So far I think I've done a good job with that. I've called penalties, given out yellow cards, warned players against physical play, things like that that can be difficult to manage.
One of the things I expected and have received has been criticism from parents and to a lesser extent coaches. Parents can be unbelievably harsh some times. Sometimes the tiniest bit of contact between two players can incite parents to call for my head and question my ability to see. The criticism can be quite vicious. Recently, for instance, I overheard parents telling each other that the game I was calling was one of the worst officiated games they'd seen in quite a long time. I try to laugh that off because it can eat at you if you let it. I'd like to see parents watch the game and stow their nasty remarks but that's never going to happen.
Ultimately though it's gone well, about as well as I could have hoped for to this point. I'm not quite a top area soccer referee but I'm slowly improving and making strides. Most importantly, though, I'm getting more and more comfortable out there. And for me right now, that's the most important thing - no nerves and more comfort means a more enjoyable time.