With the end of the season in sight, my son’s under 12s football team had a league game against a team that was beatable. The opposition had beaten them earlier in the season, but my son’s team were short on players that day. They should have won this one. Before the game, my husband (the coach) told us this team had a new coach who wasn’t very nice. Apparently they’d been doing better this season, since getting the nasty coach.
The game kicked off and the opposition scored almost immediately. Not good.
But, just two minutes later, my son had scored with a fantastic goal. 1-1.
Within five minutes, my son had scored again. 2-1. I was one very proud mum!
And, through all of this, the nasty coach shouted. Shouted and shouted and shouted. Even when his team were on top, he shouted at them. It wasn’t nice to listen to.
Our team took a corner and the opposition fumbled it and it rolled over their line. 3-1. We were really in the driving seat with only 20 minutes played.
And still the nasty coach yelled. He didn’t pause for breath. It must have been horrible for his players, but pretty disconcerting for ours too.
League games are supposed to have a referee allocated by the league. Often, there aren’t enough referees to go round. Then one of the coaches has to step up to referee the game. It was someone from the opposition who decided to step up for this game. Unfortunately.
When a coach from our team referees, they tend to favour the other team if a decision is uncertain. Not so with this particular referee. His own team pushed and pulled our players. It went unnoticed. But my son had a free kick awarded against him for shoulder barging a player. Which he didn’t do. He just fought hard for the ball. When it looked like their team weren’t going to be able to hang onto it, the referee decided my son must have shoulder barged the player.
This wasn’t the only free kick awarded against our team for ‘crimes’ that went completely unnoticed on the other side. There was even a penalty against us. Penalties are rare in under 12s football. This isn’t the premier league. Why not give kids a chance?
Every week, each team puts up a linesman – usually one of the dads. The linesman has to decide whether a ball has gone off and, if so, whose throw/ goal kick/ corner it is, as well as if a ball has gone offside. For the first time ever, my 14 year old son was the linesman. My eldest isn’t a footballer and never has been, but the coaching team for my son’s team has gone down from four to one or two in the last year. My son has started helping his dad out most weeks and it has been very valuable to my husband to have the extra pair of hands.
He did a good job as linesman, but the nasty coach had a big gob and a loud voice. He was very prone to shouting ‘off!’. The ref turned to my son and said ‘put the flag up if it’s off’. Who the hell is he to talk to a 14 year old boy who is just helping out his dad and his brother like that? And, as my husband pointed out to the ref, he didn’t put his flag up because the ball wasn’t out! This happened on more than one occasion too.
Meanwhile, the game was spiralling out of control. Was it any surprise with the nasty coach and the nasty, biased ref? From 3-1 up, suddenly we were drawing 4-4.
And then they got that penalty. We were losing 5-4.
You could see how angry and determined our players were. They’d been badly treated and they wanted to win that game.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Their confidence and morale had been thoroughly knocked by the nasty coach and the nasty ref. The odds were stacked against them. If the playing field had been even, they could so easily have won it.
They may have lost, but it was a moral victory for fairness.
(And don’t even get me started on the opposition goalie’s dad who spent half the game on the pitch, but the ref somehow didn’t notice. It was one seriously angry football match.)