When you think you’ve heard it all before someone says…

I thought after all the time I’ve been refereeing and coaching I’d heard it all. How wrong I am.

At a Senior referees training evening – we had the Chairman of a local Senior League speaking to us and he said something I’d not heard before and something that had me sitting up and listening to.

He said that the people involved in the game thought football was an “action game”.

Now let that sentence wash over your mind and see where it takes you.

Football is an “action game” – and when you think about it clubs don’t practice inaction, do they? They practice acts!

Okay, there are times when we need to slow the game down to allow the boiling tempers to subside, but equally we have to be aware when we’re taking our time and the players (teams) want to get on with the action.

If you want to create an atmosphere where teams can express themselves you have to feel the game and trust that feeling is correct.

The bad news is: you will get it wrong and games will go south because you allowed it to breathe too much. But, if you hold the game with a vice-like grip too much, for too long and against the wishes of the teams you will breed bad feelings towards you.

Remember one of the best words in football is the simple “no” and if a player has done wrong presume (s)he knows it and just by simply telling her/him “no” without stopping the game and incurring the wrath of the teams, you will have the teams on board (without by definition, making yourself the centre of attention).

This will still set the player up; this will still get your message across and this will (more importantly) keep the game an ACTION GAME.

Of course, you could stop the game, call in the skipper and give a diatribe that no one wants or listens to!

The world around football has changed but the game itself has stayed essentially the same – score more goals than them in the 90 minutes.

Clubs say:

We want as much time as possible, in the 90 minutes, to get the ball in their net and we don’t need a big showy referee breaking up the play with shows of authority.

This is what chairman, managers and players of the better side in a contest want from us as referees.  And if we really want to progress we had better deliver it.

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