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Question Number: 5752


Lee Evans of Norwich, England asks...

Is there any particulars that i should mention to the Teams prior to Kick off,before they enter the field of play and the match commences

Answer provided by Referee Dawson

Hi Lee, .the pregame with your ARS, if you have them, it sets up what you say or do to some extent. .If possible I try to motivate the ARs to join me in the pregame pitch inspection and some warm ups..I have my ARs work with me to collect the team sheets, id players and check equipment...Too much control exerted too soon can cause irritation. Coaches could think that a referee has no business butting into coaching and giving the kids any instrucutions before a game, particularly regarding things that are supposed to be taught by the coaches. Some consider this insulting and quite disruptive. This also interfers in pregame warmup and team strategy. There is a feeling of, Can't they just check the kids in, check equipment and toss the coin? At the risk of butting heads and as a player and coach myself I have some agreement with this perspective...However, I believe that in youth games there is room for friendly reminders and encouraging remarks. The method by which a coach does their job and a referee does theirs must fufill the underlying overriding law 18 of youth sports, the game is about the kids and their fun!!! Not about the need of adult fans or parents to express public opinions, the importance of the coach or the showcasing of a referee. ..The simple fact is many youth coaches have as poor knowledge as many referees who are starting out. A well as the been there done that know it all types. The one thing that must always be front and centre is our concern and priority which is the youth we serve. The fact is many leagues are not consistant with substitution proceedures or what they allow for jewlery, taped up or otherwise. Each referee has opinions and acceptability and tolerance levels that can baffle unsuspecting coaches. ..Coaches are in charge of the youth as they are his or her players but they are my responsibility on the FOP and their welfare comes before a coaches desires of what they want.I will always have a general chat with the captains at the coin toss and take their names and numbers intor duce my AR crew and get a feel for their attitude. The comments are general in nature but will lay out a few expectations for them to help me help them...It may well come down to personality as to how well you interact with coaches or players. .The one concern expressed as a deterent is what we say and how we say it, going to be used as a ghost by the coach or players to later haunt us? Feeding ammunition into the breech to destroy the relationship instead of cementing it? No one suggests you spend oddles of time on a lecture but friendly, open and honest dialogue will not be seen as a bad thing by me ever. Less is more can be a good proviso at older games but avoid being seen as arrogant or snobish...I will say if you choose to talk, know what you wish to say in the way you wish it heard. Youth programs need to educate, mentor and provide feedback on all aspects of the game. A quality referee, good coach and an eager player can always find common ground if they believe in the principles of fairplay and go forthin the spirit of the game in every match. ..Setting standards is about setting examples for others in the light of day under the scrutiny of all. As a referee and as a coach I respect the positions but my perspective alters depending on which activity I am engaged in. As a neutral official I wish the coaches to be concerned about coaching the kids not with trying to do my job. .As a coach I wish the neutral official to do his job without affecting my teams' play unneccessarily. In either position the welfare of the youth is a priority. There is more to be gained in shared responsibility than sole responsibility..To the extent of involvement by a referee I offer this suggestion. Address your first remarks directly to the coaches away from the teams. Then after you have done so ask the coaches is there anything they require or needs clarification and would they like you to relay anything to the kids or recieve any questions directly from the youth? ..Depending on their response I address each team once the coaches have indicated what they prefer. It could be a simple hello has the coach prepared you well? A brief equipment and ID check. Captains at the ready in say 5 minutes. Enjoy the game! .Or a reinforcement of some points the coach wishes me to go over including accepting questions directly from the kids. ..Below is a topic of coverage that I will often use at the lower youth levels when I speak to the coaches. This changes depending on the level of competition and the age of the youth. ..A brief friendly hello and intro,..I am fair but not perfect, my errors will never be intentional. I consider the field conditions and if wet or slippery encourage them to be carefull...I am easily approachable if time and circumstances permit to answer the youth's questions on a call provided it is in a respectful tone. ..I ask for a game ball, go over the need for quality substitution proceedures to be followed and make known I will add extra time. If the weather is hot I ensure adequate hydrating proceedures are easily obtainable...Jewlery is not acceptable and shirts must be tucked in. ..I ask the coach if his kids understand such things as advantage, deliberate handling, offside, and quick restarts. ..Play the whistle as offside decisions are not given unless 100% convinced an infraction occurs. When in doubt NO Flag!..I accept no dissent directed towards my ARs and expect the coach's cooperation in keeping the touchlines free of abuse...In youth competition the laws are applied if criteria are met although if I occasional remind you that a certain player could use a substitution this may prevent a card from being given. ..I cover any specific directives that might apply to that league or tournament. ..I offer support on the field for quality efforts and fairplay for both teams. ..I sum up by stating, Is there anything they require or needs clarification and would they like you to relay anything to the kids or recieve any questions directly from the youth? If yea or nay I finish with. Enjoy the match. ..The above only takes a minute and is prolonged only at the urging of the coach... Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I always have a pregame with youth rec teams. I especially point out on substitutions for the sub NOT to set foot on the FOP until the player they are subbing for is completely off. I remind them about tackling from behind and keeping their elbows down. I tell them to continue play unless I blow my whistle, then I ask for questions..For Select teams I merely tell them to play my whistle and wait on subs.

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