Monday, June 18, 2007

Far West Regionals Day 2

Day 2, Tuesday

"Anybody want some water?"

This sentence has been overheard so many times today on every field during each and every game. Parents and other spectators holding numerous bottles of water waiting for any thirsty player of their team to run to the touchline and grab a quick sip before trotting off again as the game restarts.

Well, it cooled off 105* for the first day of games. Our Referees began showing up at the Referee tent at the two venues at 5:50am for 7:00am kickoffs. The temperature for the first game of the day was only 98* so there was some good news for the Referees appointed to the 7am games.

Ali Saheli and I were told that the distance between field #1 and field #11 at the Kellogg complex is exactly one mile. That being the case, we both put in over 5 miles today watching Referees, AR's and 4th Officials working. Overall we can tell those of you who are waiting to attend the Regional Youth Championship Tournament in your region, the Region IV Referees have set the bar pretty darn high on their first day.

The first round of matches finished the 'morning' session at 2:45pm. Our daily Instruction began at 3:15pm back at the hotel. Today's instruction touched on the following points;

#1. Correct positioning for AR's when the ball is rolling toward the goalkeeper. Today there were two significant instances I observed, of a goalkeeper mishandling a rolling or bouncing ball and the AR decided to cut his run short of the goal line position. In both instances an AR on the goal line would have provided confirmation that the ball had not crossed the goal line as it was being kick saved near the goal line inside the goal. The Region IV Referees were asked if saving the extra 5 to 7 yards was worth the loss of a higher profile assignment later in the tournament? Everyone in the room agreed that running an extra 5 to 7 yards 4 to 5 times during a match (a total distance of up to 35 yards) would be worth it if it helped you get the recognition you deserved for a job well done.

#2. The Referees were asked to solve a hypothetical question.
What would you do if, in this competition, you awarded a foul to the attacking team 10 yards into their opponents defending half of the field, near the edge of the center circle, and the goalkeeper of the defending team came 25 yards out of her goal to kick the ball directly back to the attacking team and the attacking team put the ball down and was prepared to immediately shoot the ball and score a goal before the goalkeeper could recover her position?

This question was given to the Referees to consider in small groups and then I asked people for their responses of what they would HONESTLY do in this situation. Most answers from the group centered around the idea that they would not let the attacking team take a quick free kick in this situation because of the issues surrounding the ideal of 'Fair Play.' Some Referees correctly pointed out that if the ball is properly placed they could let the kick proceed. I asked the majority who said they wouldn't let this happen, 'How do they have the power to do this?' Where are they given that authority? After some consideration and consultation with their law books they discovered the answer, can you?

#3. Advantage. Without giving away the title of one of the next Instructional Sessions planned by US Soccer Referee Department, we had a good discussion about Advantage. What are some of the indications that a situation of contact in a match might develop into a good Advantage? Someone in the group brought up the question about applying Advantage at a Serious Foul where a Send Off will occur. Should you consider applying Advantage and a delayed red card? My response was, suppose you apply Advantage inside the Penalty Area after a Serious Foul has occurred and the attacking team instead of scoring hits the crossbar and the ball rebounds back into play? Now you will have no stoppage until the ball next goes out of play. The risk to reward ratio is too high. To make the situation even worse, can you imagine the same situation but after the ball rebounds from the crossbar back into play the player who committed the serious foul gets possession and scores a goal?

These possibilities represent the reasoning behind US Soccer's position that Advantage not be applied at a Serious Foul where a Sending Off will be the result of the contact.

Then we dismissed the Referees with the mission to eat a balanced meal and drink two more bottles of electrolyte filled fluids before the 7:00pm games kickoff tonight. Did I forget to tell you, we are on our way back out to the fields until 11:00pm tonight?

After dismissing the Referees we had our Assessors meeting to wrap up some of what we had seen and ask them to contribute ideas for more instructional topics to cover. The Assessor group is a very dedicated bunch! They are out there in the hot, hot, sun just like our Referees. All of the Assessors requested to be included in a mentoring group with National Assessors helping them to improve too. They gave us a number of very good ideas to touch on in the next few days. As we cover them I will update you.

For now, it's back to the fields for the 7:00pm and 9:00pm matches.

Keep us in mind, these Referees are working hard out here and making everyone of us look great! It's a pleasure to be here with them and able to share this terrific experience with you.

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