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One of the things we learned from staying home because of the pandemic was the amount of spare time one had when going out and visiting family and friends was not an option. Cleaning out old boxes and sprucing up one room after another can get tiring, but looking at photo boxes always brings back memories we can continue to share with family. Because so many of us had free time these last few months, our soccer assigner in the Midwest sent short video clips to all referees on his eligible list, including me. These clips have lessons in them and hopefully most of his 200 referees responded to the questions posed with an answer after viewing and reviewing the plays. A good number of these referees have had their share of getting to the playoffs and even going all the way to championship games — both high school and USSF matches.

The clips sent to us by email ranged from youth games to professional games. On occasion, some showed a clip where one of us was the target of “needing correction” or “nice job.” All of us hope the next time clips are sent out we are not highlighted in the former group.

Very simple situations — such as recognizing a foul, making offside calls and giving a correct restart — were the focus of the clips we received on a weekly basis. However, during the months of the pandemic, the clips were sent to all more than once a week since so many of us had time on our hands. At first, the clips were to engage the group’s members as to what each of us saw in the clip, provide an answer and defend that answer. What became apparent was that a few referees who did respond did not have a clue on foul recognition, when to raise a flag or what restart was needed. Unfortunately, some referees refused to even answer the questions — more than likely for fear of answering wrong.

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The information gathered with these clips can be used for many things. One, of course, is where a referee stands with interpreting the Laws of the Game, foul recognition, restarts and working with your crew. After a few days of being able to review the clips, answers were provided. How the group answered as a whole was set up so we can see where each of us stands in making the correct decision; no names, of course. As an assessor, I am able to go over answers from these clips with the assigner and ask how other officials interpreted the play and why they answered a certain way. This gives us information on how to develop referees moving up the ranks and how to make sure they are doing the best job possible in their assigned matches.

Let’s be fair. An assigner can go out to a few games each week but can’t go to all of them. How referees answer the video clip questions can help the assigner decide who might benefit from a visit during their next match. An assessor can help here, too, by visiting a referee who might need some work. If officials are willing to listen to improve their game, we have a chance to help. If this person refuses advice and is upset at looking at the game a different way, well, there is a good chance this referee will stay at the present level and moving up to an advanced match or the playoffs might not happen.

While many colleges have either canceled or postponed fall seasons and as club and league play resumes, there will be such a cry for officials because this pandemic has kept so many away from recertifying — even clinics had to be canceled. But there is no reason for us, as referees, not to keep in touch and stay on top of our game. Assigners: Find a few clips to quiz your group, set up a few questions and see how they answer. Do your officials need help? Are all of them on the same page? Can you identify the next referee crew to do that important match for the playoffs or even for a championship game? You have a voice in your league and you might be asked one day who are the next up-and-coming referees to get the nod for that “big” game.

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