Saturday, September 8, 2007

Formal Dinners and First Round of Assignments for WWC

Thursday night, we joined the staff for our formal referee dinner at the FIFA headquarters. We were joined by the chairman of the WWC organizing committee, Mr. Worawi Makudi (Thailand). Everyone looked dapper in their formal FIFA suit. We indulged in a 4 course meal with the best part being the final course.

We finished dinner around 10pm and headed to the river front for a little sightseeing including one of the more recognizable buildings in the Shanghai skyline, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (seen in the picture below).

As usual, we had a training session Friday morning. Since Thursday was light training, Friday was a bit more rigorous. Sunshine covered the sky and the heat continued to increase. We did not have practical training Friday morning as the instructors were meeting with the teams today to refresh and discuss match specifics for the tournament.

The training portion of the tournament is coming to a close and soon the matches will begin. We are all excited for the opening ceremonies on Monday.

Friday, the 7th started with some speed agility training on a hot and humid day; a great way to loosen the legs as we move from the fitness and test portion of this experience on to pure game preparation.

Following lunch, the big moment, the first round of assignments were announced for matches 1-8. The opening match will be officiated by a team from the Asian Football Federation, the Australian team. The 2nd match of the tournament, Japan vs. England will be officiated by the CONCACAF crew of Kari Seitz, Isabel Tovar (Mex), Rita Munoz (Mex) and Jen Bennett in Shanghai on Tuesday the 11th. We are looking forward to a fantastic match on Tuesday. For those interested in watching the match, refer to the link below for the broadcast schedule.

Following the much anticipated assignments, the referees headed off to Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium to receive our credentials.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to grab a peak of the final preparations for the WWC opening ceremony. What a great treat! We were able to spend time with some very enthusiastic little girls ready to play “Mulan”, the WWC mascot. The girls soaked up the attention and gladly posed for numerous photos.

Following this inspiring and motivating visit we headed over to a dinner at the Convention Center hosted by the WWC Local Organizing committee, where we were treated to Chinese food and special Chinese entertainment.

All of the preparations are in place and China is ready to kick-off the WWC 2007.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fitness Test Completed in Shanghai!

For the first 4 days here in China, the weather has been moderate – some light rain showers, but mostly overcast. Well, the weather changed just in time for the fitness test. On the morning of Wednesday, 5 Sept, hot and humid was the order of the day. The assistant referees were divided into the first two groups and ran the fitness test first. The referees were in the third group and started at 11am. When we arrived at the track and began our warm-up, it was very hot and humid. Fortunately, there was a slight breeze. However, as hoped, the years and months of hard work paid off. We are elated to say that we passed with flying colors. The only change to our regular training was the water consumption before, during and after the test. Of course, on our very last step, a cooling down pour of rain closed the test.

So the first big hurdle at the women’s world has been conquered; with the 6x40 meters covered in the required time and the 20x 150m run followed by 50m recovery well within time.

After the fitness test, we returned to the hotel for a well deserved lunch and some enjoyed Chinese massages. Did we mention that we have 3-4 full time masseuses at our disposal throughout the day?

After lunch, we had our first chance to get out and see a glimpse of Shanghai. Our hotel is on the western side of Shanghai and we traveled by bus to the eastern side for a shopping spree. Shopping is always a favorite among the referees and is a great way to unwind. Of course unless you have shopped in China before, it is hard to prepare for the experience. We had several local volunteers assisting; getting a “good” deal is truly an art form in China. Many of the referees spent quite a bit of money, but we held off, buying only “necessities”.

Thursday brought more sunshine and fortunately a light training session. After some light jogging and stretching, we spent some time practicing our soccer (football) skills. Yes, we are sure that would have been entertaining for many of you.

We have our official referee dinner tonight. We will don our FIFA formal uniforms and enjoy a very nice meal at the FIFA headquarter hotel.

For those who are interested, below are views looking out of our hotel rooms – as you can see, we are several stories up (in this view nearly 40). In fact, every time we ride the elevator up and down, if we do not make some stops in between, our ears pop!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

US Referees Arrive in China for WWC '07

The WWC referees have all arrived in Shanghai. It is a diverse group of women with 29 countries represented from around the world. We are headquartered at a beautiful hotel in Shanghai with first class facilities.

We are fortunate to have the support of a fantastic staff including FIFA referee department members, FIFA referee committee members, FIFA instructors, match inspectors, fitness trainers, psychologist, IT specialists and masseurs.

We have started our regular training sessions. Every morning at 9am we head over to a local university for 45 minutes of physical training followed by 90 minutes of technical training. After we return from our training sessions, we have lunch followed by an afternoon meeting at the hotel.

Technology is part of our everyday life here in China. We use heart rate monitors at all of our training sessions. Also we have been introduced to the electronic communication system. Outside the men's world cup in 2006, this is the next tournament FIFA has hosted were the system is to be used. CONCACAF referees were outfitted first at Monday's training session. We got 30 minutes to practice with the technology. The equipment consists of 4 transmitters one for each official on the team. The transmitters are strapped to our waists via a "girdle/belt" with a cord that connects to a headset. The communication systems can be "open" for all 4 officials to be able to speak at anytime, or you can be outfitted with a "push to talk" button that allows speaking only when a button it pushed. In any case all 4 officials can hear one another at all times. The intent of these systems is to assist in situations where a good signal and eye contact are not adequate.

FIFA has really worked to create a team environment; they have set-up a lounge for us complete with 4 Internet ready computers, a big screen tv and the ever popular Ping-Pong Table - a MUST in China.

No change in the weather here in Shanghai. Still overcast, with light rain. And clearly high, high humidity.

Tomorrow (Wed. in China) we are set to take the fitness test. Wish us luck!