Tag Archives: respect

ED-209 meets the Respect campaign?

This is an interesting new take on the Respect campaign from The FA. A lot more than a mere tip of the hat to the ultra-violent RoboCop film as well!

I am now wondering whether I should take a cuddly toy onto the pitch to hand to the next dissentful player. It would certainly get some sort of reaction.

Spectator abuse

Offensive language in football is back in the news again, following Wayne Rooney facing a charge for it.

Following advice from assessors, I have tightened up on my ‘policing’ of this when refereeing. It doesn’t take much at ‘park level’. Telling the players prior to the game starting and pointing out it is a public park, with young children around, makes it an easy sell. With the game in progress, a sharp word as appropriate keeps it sorted, and the players will generally tell each other to cut it out!

Sometimes, I feel a team is relieved if it helps cut out the barracking they are receiving from their own goal-keeper!

The above helps assert the authority of the referee and also a sense of discipline, partly self-policed, from the players. Plus it makes it a much better environment for all.

What about spectators? I recently had cause to threaten my first ever match abandonment. Comments from the sidelines will always be there but certainly at ‘park level’ I am not tolerating personal abuse towards me or the players. A referee has no power to actually make a spectator leave but they can certainly abandon the game if they do not, and the corresponding club will be facing a charge as a result.

Like with dissent and language on the field of play, it is important to manage this sort of thing early, lest it become a free for all. In my case, the manager was excellent and resolved the situation immediately and the players understood why play was halted. Perhaps I should point out this was an under 16s game so a strong reason why action had to be taken!

Remember this?

O Captain! My Captain!

The Respect campaign, courtesy of The FA, has been running for a while now. Most recently it has spawned Respect FC to continue buy-in from the public.

One of the edicts of the campaign is for Captains to be a focal point of their team in terms of interacting with the Referee. A key aspect here is that the Captain has no formal responsibilities in the Laws Of The Game but by working together it can really help with control of the match.

However, this really does depend on the just how good the Captain is. In general, I have found that there are two types:

  1. Will lead by example. Will work with the referee to calm down members of their team as required. Will assist with communicating the referee’s preferences to the team.
  2. Will have been nominated due to being the loudest member of the team. Most likely to criticise decisions they don’t agree with (loudly). Will be leading by example but the wrong sort of example! Leading the charge for the first caution of the game.

A strong captain is worth their weight in gold. If both teams are blessed in this way then a game will pretty much run itself!

Here is some general advice in handling captains in the best interests of the game:

  1. Make contact before the coin toss. This doesn’t have to be much. Perhaps just ask who they are during the equipment inspection?
  2. Get them involved when briefing the Club Assistant Referees. They can raise any queries plus it will help there be no surprises with the way you work with the Assistants.
  3. Brief the teams on any expected behaviour during the equipment inspection. Explaining it just to the captains prior to the coin toss is okay but… When does the captain have the subsequent chance to tell their team? If everyone knows from the beginning what your views are then the captain will find it easier… and so will you!
  4. Get the captain involved when disciplining as much as possible. They will be more likely to be able to calm down team-mates than you. Remember the stepped approach: This doesn’t just have to be when showing the cards!
  5. Keep in touch with the captain during the game even when there is no misconduct. Are they doing a good job? Tell them! Thank them!
  6. Captain not helping? Stop trying to get them involved. There’s only so much you can do.

I hope you find this useful and please do post any of your own advice with working with Captains in the best interest of having a great game!

Like parent, like child. Like coach, like player.

Coaching styles may vary.

“There are no bad children, only bad parents” is a phrase which is known by many. Essentially, behaviour is learned, mimicked, whichever you feel applies. The same principle applies to sports and over the years I have certainly seen it first hand.

I should stress before continuing that ‘bad’ is a bit strong in most cases. A coach is not setting out to be a bad coach. They are not sitting at home before heading to an event wondering how best they can upset people and have a counter-productive influence on whoever they are coaching. They do want the best outcome for their athletes but their approach has somehow become misguided.

Judo is predicated around mutual benefit and welfare. As a result, the attitudes of the vast majority of coaches and indeed the players has been exemplary in my experience. Yes, perceived bad calls from the referee team are challenged but it is an absolute exception when any behaviour starts to become threatening! This just goes to show how enforcing such principles from the very beginning of the coaching process reap benefits throughout a judoka’s life.

Football, however, has a long-running battle with behavioural problems. The fact that the Respect campaign exists in the first place is testament to this. There is conflict between players (even those on the same team), managers, coaches, spectators and referees. The second game I refereed ‘featured’ an altercation where one manager allegedly assaulted the other over a confrontation regarding a child swearing at some of the gathered parents.

Particularly with youth football, the coaches set the example. If I meet a friendly, relaxed, professional and balanced coach it comes as no surprise when his or her team are there to actually play football. There is precious little dissent. In the unfortunate event that I had to dismiss a player for violent conduct (the irony is appreciated), a manager I am thinking of said after the game “I have no problem with the decision, he deserved it, he has to learn somehow”. Such a well-balanced view is sadly rare.

Compare and contrast to, shall we say, the more shouty coaches. The referee’s decisions are likely to be targeted to compensate in any short falls in team ability. A referee may be pilloried for getting a penalty decision wrong, but the fact that a team missed several open goals will be conveniently forgotten!

That said, some such coaches are ‘balanced’ in that they are just as likely to shout in the same way at their own team. This does, however, result in the players having the same form of attitude (high levels of dissent) which the referee has to deal with firmly. It is important to set the boundaries EARLY.

Referees are there to control the event and enforce as required. Coaches, however, should have trained their players in such a way that the referee should never NEED to be dealing with discipline issues.

However, it is very important to keep an open mind despite the general trends. I was surprised when the latter style of coach who had very loudly criticised a penalty decision during a game was very polite and listened afterwards. He just wanted to know the reasoning. I also heard him complimenting an opposing player on a run. More balanced than perhaps someone just hearing the shouting might have realised.

During my cup final there was one player getting VERY angsty over an offside not being given. I took him to one side and explained what had happened. Once he understood, the angst immediately vanished and he apologised.

Let us not forget the parents as well. They are not just instilling behaviour (good or bad) in their children at home but also when standing and watching at the side of a sporting event!

Coaches, parents, referees… we all have our role to play in education.It is NEVER someone else’s problem: We all have a responsibility to help!

I would love to hear about any behaviour, good or bad, you have witnessed at sporting events and how this may have been linked to any coaches and/or parents present!

Referee cross-training: What can football teach us?

Cross-training can be a great help in judo. Brazilian Ju-jitsu (BJJ) would be a classic one due to the newaza cross-over in particular. Mix in anaerobic work like circuit training, tabata sprints. Skipping is a classic. You probably have your own favourites and opinions on what is worthwhile and what is not.

Should the same apply to refereeing? Can referee principles from other sports assist the judo referee?

I’m intending to find out. I’m partaking in a Football Association Referee Course. It’s where the money is. Let me clarify that! I don’t mean I’m after the money! Instead, what differences will the sheer numbers and money available make to the quality of training?

Also, will my judo refereeing skills help at all with football refereeing? What about the other way round? Judo, 2 players, short matches. Football, 22 players (just on the pitch), 90 minutes. Oh, and the referee can’t saunter around a small mat area to keep up with what is happening.

It will be interesting to find out.

From the introductory session, here are a few differences in training that I have already noticed:

1. Big, glossy books and training materials. The Laws Of The Game are detailed in a book. This book is also freely available to download in PDF format. Here it is.

2. Lots more initial training. I think around 25 hours of ‘classroom’ training, and you are expected to spend that much of your own time going over things. In addition, 6 games must be carried out. For the basic referee course, it was a day of training, and you were examined at the next competition you could help out at.

3. You do not go on the course to learn the rules. The introduction pointed out that in the initial gap between introduction and first core module, you are expected to learn them. The classes are to cover interpretation, answer queries, basically the nitty gritty rather than, “What is the legal kit for a player?”.

Number three is a big deal here. In judo, we have a refereeing manual which has the rules. Where is the information and training on matters such as handling contentious situations? Calming a player down so the good judo can happen without hansoku-make? What makes a good conflab between the referee and the two corner judges? Football has LOTS of information out there on how the Assistant Referees should work with the man in black in the middle.

(Note that football has a different policy here: No majority of three. Referee has the final word. The assistants are just that: Assistants.)

Now, this is in no way a dig at judo. Let’s face it, football has far more money and numbers involved. 7,000 referees LEAVE football every year. There is a pool of about twenty THOUSAND.

There is some slowness from the BJA though. Koka was removed at the beginning of this year, for example. The revised 2009 rulebook only appeared within the last week or so! And I only found out about this from a cursory forum post. I have received no official notification. I make a determined effort to keep abreast of all the rule changes… but does everyone? Is learning on the morning of a big event really enough?

I think the main culture shock will be attitude of players, spectators and coaches. Judo is very refined. Abuse nowadays is VERY rare, most of those involved are respectful of each other and the officials. Partly due to respect, be it the ‘Rei’ or otherwise, is drilled in from the first session. Also, maybe because Judo referees must be judoka to even qualify (blue belt or above, but most are Shodan at least)? I’m not sure.

Watch this space…