Mr. Referee

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

imagesIn the twilight of my soccer life, I’ve become a high school referee. Actually, in Bergen County I’m what is called a cadet — eligible to oversee JV, freshman and middle-school games. That’s cool. Less pressure and I get to see the youngsters, some of whom are pretty impressive.

One thing first … only two of more than a handful of games have been on artificial turf. That’s great. But PLEASE, cut the grass. Often. The grass fields are nice and would be positively pristine if they were cut a few times a week. The players will thank you. Ankle-high grass needs to go.

A two-ref system is used in New Jersey the vast majority of the time. It is what it is. And think about it … who’s available to call games on weekday afternoons? Gracefully aging (or not so much) people like me.

Some early, random notes from an admittedly small sample …

  • Best game: A middle-school match, which is still co-ed. Several players showed some impressive ball skills, smarts and field sense.
  • A small, small sample, but two mostly Hispanic girls’ freshman teams were woefully mismatched against two teams from the suburbs. Both took it on the chin.
  • Boys like long shorts; girls not so much.
  • Best girls team I’ve seen so far: Ramapo JV
  • Best boys team I’ve seen so far: Ridgewood freshmen

I love seeing a snapshot of where the game is today and where it might be going. Certainly, the best players also play for club teams, and it shows.

I love being on the field, but I’d rather be playing.