Every business man knows that communication is key to success and in our business as referees it is no different. In 2009 U.S. Soccer invited all the top referees from around the country to “Pro Camp.” This took place in Orlando from Feb. 5-8. At this camp we did many things, including obtaining our communication devices for the upcoming MLS season. These communication devices (RefTalk) are new to most referees in our country. I am a firm believer that you don’t wait for a game to try out something new, so I have been wearing RefTalk while training to get the feel before I step out onto the field.
Last Wednesday The Pan Pacific Championship started in LA at the Home Depot Center. I was the referee for the first game and was able to test out RefTalk officially before using it in MLS. I found that we needed to account for more time when getting dressed before the match. It takes a little longer to get dressed and ready not that we have so many things to put on. You might be asking, “What things?” Well, at the pro camp we also started to wear hart rate monitors and we already wear the receiver for the beep flags. I hope there are not any electrical storms close to where I will be working.
During the game, the RefTalk came in handy on a couple occasions. In the first half, I had three cautions to one team and then I had a yellow card handed to me on a silver platter. As I was pulling the yellow card out my fourth official confirmed my decision from his angle. The fourth official was not making the decision he was only reinforcing my decision. The RefTalk was used to give extra time at the end of each half. It was also used to confirm who cautions were issued to when the AR and 4th were not 100 percent sure.
The next event was kind of embarrassing on my part but in the end we got it correct. At the close of the first half #2 on the blue was cautioned for unsporting behavior. At the open of the second half #2 orange commits a tactical foul. I showed him the yellow card the immediately showed him the red card. The problem was I mixed the two #2’s up and this was only the first YC for orange #2. When the red card came out the near AR immediately keyed into my RefTalk and let me know it was that #2’s first caution. I had to clarify that the red card was not valid to 11 upset players that didn’t speak the same language. It is amazing how you can communicate when you don’t know the same language.
So, needless to say I believe the RefTalk will be a positive tool for us referees this year in the MLS. I hope training is going well and everyone is looking forward to the spring.