The conversation with the organizing coach went something like this: “I’d rather sit on the sidelines and cheer on my son.” “But we really need refs.” “well … but .. I don’t know the rules that well.”
Freeze! Zoom in. See if you can spot the fatal error…yeeees, there it is, see it? Lack of an unequivocal denial. BIG mistake. He smelled blood and moved in. “That’s ok, they’re just 6 year olds. C’mon.” Deep sigh. This went back and forth for a while, but I was done for. Finally: “OK. Soccer’s the one played with the feet, right?” Too little too late.
The e-mail arrived a week later – mandatory three hour training session for coaches. No kidding. Three hours. On a Saturday morning. VERY hardcore. How to throw out a girl who refuses to remove her jewelry, no touching the players, if you have to console, hug from the side, whisper to the team’s coach and have THEM dispatch a homicidal parent (hopefully before they charge the field with a machete), and more. Boot camp. Then there was a quiz (I kid you not) followed by what felt like my high school graduation as we filed past, had our hands shook, and were handed the hideous yellow shirt we were expected to wear to each game, black shorts, a rule book, a whistle, a plastic coin (for the toss), and, my favorite, red and yellow cards for penalties and ejections.
I must admit to being really nervous for the first game. Steeled for the cries of “Kill the Ref!” I took the field and started the game, cringing. And? Really not too bad. Six 6 year olds sprinting after a soccer ball for two ten minute halves. Forgetting which goal they’re supposed to be aiming for, stopping to admire a worm on the field, deciding to do a cartwheel just as the ball rolls past them into the net…. My primary duties? Keeping time and placing the ball for a kick in when it goes out of bounds. Oh, and re-tying shoelaces. That’s a biggie. They forgot that one in the training session, but thankfully, it’s a skill I mastered some time ago.
And all the equipment they gave me? Besides the whistle and the hideous yellow shirt, I haven’t really needed it. I have tried not to let it go to waste, though. Yesterday, I gave my wife a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct during an argument.