It really does not feel like that long ago I was piling in the games at the end of the 2010/2011 season. The snow and other bad weather meant there was a backlog so quite a few midweek evening games were available. This was great for me as it means I have already hit my required quota of 20 games since March in order to hit one of the promotion criteria.
Now, here we are in pre-season mode! I’ve been keeping up my running and have been involved in a couple of games but now the ‘real stuff’ begins. I have a pre-season schedule coming together with a mixture of referee and assistant positions at various levels. Referees need a pre-season just like players do! It is a chance for us to get the fitness in line (both physical and mental stamina), perhaps try a few new things and ensure we are confident when the season truly begins.
I had my first game this week as Assistant Referee. This was a valuable learning experience as the other two officials are both active supply league referees. In addition, the game was frenetic due to lots of triallists wanting to prove their worth!
The teams themselves are at a higher level than I am currently permitted to referee. Some notes on that:
- FITNESS AND SKILL: A lot higher than ‘parks’ football! I was able to keep up just fine and it was a great test of my sprinting ability. The ball would be kept in play for a lot longer as well which made it a more interesting game overall.
- MORE PHYSICAL PLAY: The challenges and general play were a LOT more physical. However, there were no complaints as most of the time it was controlled and the players were just getting on with it. This took adjusting to. At ‘my’ level, I would be giving fouls for that sort of contact and the players would be expecting that to happen as well.
- ADJUST ASSUMPTIONS: A couple of times I flagged for offside way too early. I was in ‘parks’ mode where I would assume (correctly) that the offside applied because no other player could be involved. I needed to wait to absolutely sure in this game because another player could EASILY zip through, or the advantage could shift IMMEDIATELY and should be considered. A great learning experience.
A summary of the game is that my fitness was easily up to the task but that it took me longer to get my mental sharpness in line, especially with not flagging for offsides too soon. As the players are faster at this level your assumptions have to be a bit different. Things flowed a lot better during the second half. My concentration had also been a hit a little bit due to a ‘flag malfunction’ in the first half….
Lots more games to come. It is going to be a busy and productive season and I am really looking forward to it!
p.s. I’ve also been nominated by Surrey FA for consideration to FA Competitions for this season which is really exciting!