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Fundamental Soccer Blog

Great Games Begin Before the First Kick-off.

In many activities, just having a good start does not always guarantee a successful experience.  Officials who invest some time to prepare and start on the right foot are providing themselves a positive environment to face the demands of the upcoming task thereby improving their chances of a successful experience.

First of all, it goes without saying that officials are expected to know and understand the Laws of the Game and any variations as they relate to player age, field size and markings, ball size, length of halves, and any other approved modifications.

Starting on the right foot begins the moment officials accept an assignment.  Make ready and pack all the necessary/required equipment (uniform, clean shoes, whistles, flags, red/yellow cards, paper, pencil/pen, flip coin, etc…).  An initial assignment maybe for the AR1 position but due to unforeseen circumstances may end up being for center official. That is why ALL officials must, especially at the lower levels of competition, be prepared for last-minute modifications to their assignments.

The location and start time of the match are basic facts one must-have.  All officials must arrive at the site in plenty of time to complete ALL the pre-game rituals which include checking the field, players, and having a pre-game meeting.  Being pressed for time, running into traffic or weather issues, and being unsure of the location of the site will cause officials to arrive late.  Officials should be proactive and plan accordingly.

From the moment you arrived at the site and enter the field, people will notice you.  How you walk and hold yourself, who you are seen talking to, how you dressed, and whether you give the impression that you are happy and confident to be there will carry over to the game you are assigned to work.

The initial required meeting with each team and their coaching staff should be friendly, respectful, and professional.  The officials should work as a team to get this part of the pre-game duties done as quickly as possible.  Those duties give the officials the opportunity to verify that the members of each team are properly dressed and equipped and that the players and their coaching staff are properly registered.

Once everyone is ready and the match begins there may be many factors that will influence the decisions being made and the way events will be seen and interpreted.  How the officials have set the stage for the contest will help determine the direction the match will take from the first whistle onward.

Pat Ferre

US YOUTH SOCCER (2021 Volunteer of the Year) USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus USSF Referee Instructor USSF Referee Assessor USSF Referee Assignor District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)