First time for everything

So this past weekend I was refereeing a Division III U14 girls game out at Paloma Fields in Mesa. I was the center, with two high schoolers as my assistant refs. This was allowed because as a minor referee, you can ref whatever level up your age minus two years. Both of these guys were barely 17, so it worked.

Once you’re an adult though – doesn’t really matter, as I’ve found out. I’ve had several games where the age group is U18 / U19, and my AR’s are 18-year-olds.

Anyway, I’ve been refereeing for a long time now, and though I always look forward to each game as an opportunity to learn something new, this time I actually did!

Scenario: With about 12 minutes left in a 0-0 tie, B2 complains to her coach about not being able to breathe too well. The field is dry grass – hey, it’s Arizona in winter – and her coach immediately tells her to get over to the bench. I overhear this exchange and glance over where B2 is trotting off the field. The coach sees me and tells me she’s got asthma and needs to come off now.

Unfortunately, Team A has possession of the ball and is moving upfield with it. They have taken advantage of B2’s absence on the field. I yell at Team A coach “If your player is in dire need, drop to the ground and I will deal with it.” I glance over again and B2 has stepped off the field and is headed for the bench seats. I turn my attention back to the play at hand and yell out “B2 get back on the field and wait there.” Team B coach is getting agitated and reiterates louder that she is an asthmatic and needs to come off. Team A has now moved to beyond midfield and is poised to bounce the ball outside and make a run. Team A’s coach, realizing the situation, yells out to his team to kick the ball out, which they dutifully do.

After indicating the throw-in, and blowing the whistle to stop play, I jog over to the Team B bench where the Coach is about to step on the field to meet me to “discuss” his player. I motion for him to stay where he is, go right to the edge of the touchline and tell B2 in a loud voice “Do not ignore my instructions. If you are on the field and not feeling well or get hurt, you are to drop to the ground and wait for my whistle to stop play. You do not just walk off the field without my permission. I gave you the chance to come back to the field and wait and you deliberately ignored my instruction. Therefore, you are cautioned for leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission.” And then I show her the yellow. Her face just drops into her shoes and her coach is livid.

“She is allowed to leave the field!”

“During the normal course of play in going for a ball or making herself available for a pass, yes. Making a beeline for the bench and ignoring my warning to the contrary is NOT normal course of play. I gave her the opportunity to come back and make it right, and she didn’t. Therefore, she’s been cautioned.”

The coach sighs and says, “Can I sub her then?”

I said, “It’s your throw-in, you can sub anyone you want,” and jogged back over to where my AR was standing with the ball.

First time I ever had to make the entry “L” on my game card (which is code for “Leaving the Field Without Permission”).