It was Bill Shankly, the famous Liverpool manager who said something like “Football’s not life and death, it’s more important that that”.

One of the joys of sports is the hyperbole that are used (such as comparing losing a game to any of the recent national and international tragedies there have been recently).

Today’s game for the Wolcott U-11 Boys of one of those games deserving of much exaggeration and even more in the way of expletives. Without some of their better players, the boys put in a magnificent game, working hard and playing well, but thanks to an awful referee (that even the opposing coach couldn’t understand) were deprived of a victory. What made this even harder for me was the way it all transpired. Calum had very graciously agreed to be the goalkeeper for the whole game, even though he didn’t really want to and had played well, not letting anything in. Then in the last minute he dived on the ball (as taught) and an opposition player ran over him. For some reason the referee from a considerable distance away decided that this was a penalty and the game ended a 1-1 draw.

When dealing with teenage referees, I can put up with a lot (and I do as they are learning the game too). The problem here was a complete lack of effort and understanding. It then leaves you in a very awkward position, having lectured the team every game on the need for good sportsmanship, I see my team devastated and my son in tears because a referee couldn’t be bothered keeping up with play or asking his assistant for an opinion. What to do?

It would be easy to rant and rave, shout and swear, but it wouldn’t do any good, especially for my players. What I chose to do was to calmly confirm with my players how upset I was about the end result but that this was just one of those things that they would have to use to motivate themselves to play harder in the future – and then I left as quickly as I could before I said anything I regretted.

To be honest, I am surprised and just how incensed I am about the whole thing still which is probably not desperately healthy, but having a blog to vent on certainly helps!

What was very heartwarming though was to see was the other coach coming over to talk to and console Calum, proof positive of there still being good people out there in youth sports, and that, for sure, is no exaggeration.

— Justin