"Between the Lines" is a column written for the HSA newsletter by Stu Gentry, a long time member of Horsham Soccer, coach and referee. The following article originally appeared 7/02.
You''ve just gotten done watching a binge of World Cup soccer. As a player or coach, you probably watched for things like skills and play development. But what did a referee see when he watched those same games?
The center referees (CR''s) demonstrated incredible fitness. The best are usually seen within the frame of the TV picture no matter how quick the game flows from one end to the other. The CR''s needed to match the running skills of the world-class athletes for the full 90 minutes.
The best of the referees had an exceptional way of handling the players. They knew when to have a quiet word or smile, or alternatively when to bring out the yellow. There is a time and a place for each, and the effective referees demonstrated they had the feel of the players to know when to escalate their response or when to keep things low key.
The best of the referee teams showed that the center referee and the assistant referees were in constant communication with each other. They looked at each other during each stoppage. The CR was not afraid to ask for input if needed or overrule the AR if he had a better view. Conversely, some of the worst officiating blunders may have been avoided if the three members of the team were operating more in unity with one another.
The referees seen during the Cup games represented the elite of their profession. Just like the players, the referees reached this level by constantly training and by evaluating their performance after each game. It was a pleasure watching these individuals, even when they showed that to err is to be human.