Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Far West Regionals Day 3

Day 3, Wednesday

It is becoming clear why there is a water shortage in Las Vegas....Not only is there construction everywhere for the zillions of people who have moved here in the last few years, each person here probably uses a gallon of it every hour to stay hydrated!

We had lost 14 Referees to the heat by the start of the 7pm evening session last night. Those of you scheduled to attend this same tournament in your region, listen when the administrators are telling you to take good care of yourselves by eating properly and more than you normally would, drinking enough fluid to nourish and rehydrate and keep reapplying the sunscreen throughout the day. The Referees here are doing such a great job of covering for one another that we are all impressed with them on and off the field.

The matches today began at 7am as normal for this tournament. Some of today's matches have been more difficult as many of the teams are fighting for enough points to stay in the tournament in the quarterfinals which will begin on Friday. The morning matches gave many Referees, AR's and 4th Officials a chance to practice their team work and man management skills we have been working on so far this week on the increasingly more difficult matches.

Our afternoon Instruction had something very special for all of those in attendance. A panel of National Referees and a FIFA AR introduced themselves, answered questions from those assembled and provided a glimpse of what awaits all those who attempt to reach the highest levels of officiating. The panel included National Referees Frank Anderson, Marlene Duffy, Ali Hacock, Alejandro Mariscal, Mark Oliver, Peter Stilling and FIFA AR, Corey Rockwell. Questions posed to them included the topics; 'What are the most important things to work on to become a National Referee?' Answers included; 'Finding an experienced Mentor,' 'Fitness,' 'Humility,' 'Working on hard games,' 'Learning more about the game,' 'Experience.'

These National Referees have provided excellent examples all week and are giving back to the game in service to both the Referees and the players by working games and mentoring fellow officials. We have certainly appreciated their presence.

Tomorrow will be a day off until the official Referee dinner which is being held at a beautiful, local golf club Hosted by the Nevada Association for all the tournament Referees. Everyone is really looking forward to a day of rest and restoration before the quarterfinals begin on Friday.

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.

Far West Regionals Day 1

Dear Friends,

There has been a lot of interest from Referees in other parts of the country in hearing what is going on in the different Youth Regional Championships. So to offer some insight from the first one of the year I will try to check in each day with some commentary and, if I remember, some photos. Let us know how we are doing. Also, if you have them, feel free to ask questions and I will try to answer them for you.
Sunday, June 17th, Day 1

"Don't worry it's a dry heat."

The opening statement about the 107* weather from Scott Conner, Nevada SYRA and the Host Association for this years edition of the Region IV Far West Regional Tournament being held in Las Vegas, NV.

Dry it is. As in Bone Dry. And HOT!

This years tournament is being staged in two field complexes which are within minutes drive of one another. The Kellogg complex has 11 full sized fields and we were told today at the Referee pre-tournament meeting that it is exactly one mile walk from field 1 to field 11. The other complex is the Bettye Wilson Complex. This complex is home to 10 fields for our use this week. Both are in excellent condition and should prove to be excellent surfaces for the players in this tournament.

The Referee meeting took place yesterday, Sunday, beginning at 2:30pm. There are nearly 250 Referees in attendance from Region IV. This group includes some National Referees and FIFA AR, Corey Rockwell of AZ. The Instruction focused on Teamwork and Referees doing what they can to improve their performances each day. Also there was a session about taking care of yourself in these conditions. Of course they include drinking enough fluids (not pop or alcohol), eating enough calories to keep the quality of your performances up and resting indoors as much as possible between games.

After the main meeting a get together with the Assessors in attendance was lead by Kevin Yant and Ali Saheli. They told the assembled Assessors their responsibility is to help the Referees improve by recognizing the positive elements of Referee performances and also make suggestions for improvement. When indicating where improvement can be made the Assessors are to focus on 'What Went Wrong, Why did it go Wrong and How to Fix it.' They will be focusing on providing solutions to any difficulties Referee crews face on each and every match. Hopefully when the officials leave Las Vegas they will have learned a few more tricks and improved their knowledge of the game as well as the Art of Refereeing.

While the Assessors were meeting there was a meeting held for 'First Time Regional Referees' to provide information about protocol and other information you need to know to be successful at these events. I don't know what all was said, I was in the Assessor's meeting. If you want to know more about the 'First Timers Meeting' leave a comment and I will try to find out or have one of the First Timers reply for everyone. After a dinner break it seemed that every state had an organizational meeting and I met informally with a group of women officials who wanted to have a forum to get some questions answered. We talked a lot about fitness, staying involved with officiating when you are really busy with school and other things and some tips in dealing with coaches and parents..."oh, those parents."

Now I am back in my hotel room blogging at 11pm+ and the first games kickoff tomorrow \nmorning at 7am! Kickoff at 7! Referees must be at the fields no less than one hour before kickoff and all the Referees are hoping to get a 7am game, it's THAT hot here. Wish us Luck. "May the Ball Bounce Straight." Let the Games Begin.


PS A link to the Tournament