Best training session in weeks: losing your house keys

I had my best training session in weeks, but it was not deliberate. I put my house keys in my shorts pocket during a short break from work. A short run, that is what I wanted. But then I lost the keys …

Almost back home, I notice the keys are no longer in my pocket. A short run with some stretching exercises, turned into a bigger round. I run the round in the park for a second time, but without any success. I only saw bycicle keys from someone else, but not mine.

It is a great lesson to keep going, even if you don’t want to. I have to get back to my home desk that time, because work is calling.

No way I can get into my apartment.

(This is when I realise my keys aren’t there yet any more. Ran it twice and then into the city centre)

Best training session in weeks in Zuiderpark

The only option is running to my wife’s work, which is an extra few km’s from the park. Walking takes too long, so I keep going. More km’s, but still not happy with the extra distance. Got her keys and ran back home. Bought new locks, just to be sure. Although it’s not funny to lose your house keys, it’s a good lesson.

Best training session in weeks: put extra effort in

The distance is not the furthest I’ve run, although way over 10km in the end. But it is a great session and lesson in giving that extra bit of energy even if you really don’t want to. Just keep going, keep putting effort into it. A good lesson for our games, because sometimes you might think you can relax. Think you can stop or take it easy. But to get to your destination – or close to play during a game – you need to put that effort in it, even if you don’t want to.

PS: Another lesson. Always keep your keys in a pocket with a zipper when going out for a run 😉

Do you want some on-field exercises for referees? Check out these High Intensity Training sessions.

My road to become a referee teacher

My road to become a referee teacher has started today. Yes, I am already teaching and helping new referees via my referee website. But now I am also selected to become referee teacher at KNVB.  This is something I really want to do. My goal is not just to improve as a referee, but also as a teacher. The knowledge I gain will also help me give you better tips on my website.

Jan's start as referee teacher

Writing for a referee blog like this is a great way to help others. I really want to improve referees with my stories. When you send me feedback or a thumbs I am probably on the right way. I want you to improve as a referee. That’s what I go for.

How I got selected as referee teacher

I wrote my application before my Africa trip, where I got a phone call when I was lying at the swimming pool in Botswana. It is the invitation for a “job” interview, which was held last week at the KNVB headquarters. I love to talk about refereeing and to share my knowledge. I am look back positively on the meeting and today I got a positive message from the KNVB as well. They appreciate my vision on refereeing and what I can bring into courses.

Working on teaching skills

The course weekend to become a referee teacher starts on Friday September 1st. A good start to work on my didactical skills and nice to meet the other candidates who will become a teacher as well. From then on I will do some sort of internship when a current teacher gives a referee course, plus some midweek training days. In the second half of the 2017-2018 season I am allowed to give my own course.

I can’t wait to become a better referee teacher. In the meantime I will keep writing stories with useful tips and interesting stories. For you, to make you a better referee.

So, if you have a specific question for me, feel free to ask it on

Jan and KNVB logo

Wait and see by club assistant referee

It’s not a foul to be in an offside position. It will be if he’ll become active in play. As assistant referee you need to wait and see.

Last week’s blog story was about the Dutch FA willing to get rid of the club assistant referees. My game last week proved that some club assistant referees are quite good. At DSO from Zoetermeer I had one who understood the wait and see principle and the “new” offside rule correctly. That’s what I like to see.

Wait and see by the assistant referee

The situation

There was an attacker in offside position at the moment the ball was passed. No doubt about that. He was about 10 metres behind the second last defender – I wouldn’t need an AR to spot that one. The club assistant referee thought: let’s wait and see if the ball will reach that attacker. He kept his flag down.

And then a defender deliberately played the ball. And yes, it reached the offside attacker that his team mate was passing the ball towards. As referee ask yourself then? Was it a deliberate pass or maybe a deliberate save? The latter would be out of question here. The ball was at least 30 metres from the goal. And yes, the defender was deliberately playing the ball. He moved his feet to play it. In such a situation it is NOT relevant in what direction the ball went. The ball reached the attacker and he scored. An important equaliser just before the end of the game.

To summarize, this is what it’s all about here: A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.

I like it when a non-neutral club assistant referee keeps the flag down in those situations. Great job there!

Great news: promotion as a referee

If you missed it via different social media channels: I earned a promotion as a referee. Can’t describe how excited I am about it.

In the rankings in April I was in 4th position, but in the last weekends of the season there are a lot of chances for other referees to get a good mark as well. And how many referees would be promoted to a higher level? In the 2013/2014 season I became fifth in the rankings and only just missed promotion.

Me after I heared about my promotion as areferee

How did I hear it

The last matchday of the season is a big day for Dutch amateur referees. Not only are play-off finals played. All referees who get promoted or relegated will get a call from the KNVB. Hundreds of phone calls to make – and that’s just in my region.

I was a referee in youth group 3. A group where you can be promoted by your place in the ranking and also if you’re a young referee in the mentoring group (then you’re not on the ranking list). The number of referees who get promoted is not always the same. Last year four referees from the list and one from the mentoring group were promoted. How would this be this season?

I got a little anxious when two young referees form the mentoring group updated their Facebook status in “Yeah, promoted”. More positive status updates came in from other groups. My phone was still quiet.

The promotion news

Then I had to leave my house for the play-off game as assistant referee. I put in my earplugs – you never know if you get that phone call, I was in a good position. And after only five minutes on the road the call came. First some chitchat about how I was doing etcetera. I thougth: just tell me some good news.

The man from the KNVB then said: “Your journey to the game would be more pleasant. I can tell you that you got promoted. Last year you were close, now you made it.” A week later I got an e-mail with the ranking and my name was in “green” because of the the promotion.

Ranking of my referee group

That was a relief. But was that it? No!

Things to work on in the future

When you get promoted, it does mean you did a good job, but you are not there yet. During the second-last game of the season there was even a mentor plus some experienced referees who watched my game. I mentor is very unusual for my games. With 29 years I’m already too old to reach pro football. That’s why they focus on teenagers or refs in their early twenties – which makes sense.

The people who watched me had some good tips to work on:

  • Focus always on situations where things might happen. A goal was scored and I pointed to the middle line. It was the 1-3 and the losing thought they could still win and tried to grab the ball out of the goalies hands. I should have focussed more on that situation than pointing towards the middle line. If players you you watch them, they won’t even try to do something that’s not allowed.
  • Stay more calm when showing your cards or making gestures. I decided that there was no foul and signalled that with a gesture. That’s good. But I did it while still running which looked like – and now I cite the referee watching me – “you did it in a way like you want to hit someone’s head off”. There’s no hurry. Same with giving cards. I know my yellow card is in my right shorts pocket, but I put it somewhere else after I gave the first card. It looks not normal when you have to check all your pockets then for your card. Something pay attention to.

And there are probably more things to work on, but these two at least to things I need to work on.

What are your goals for next season? What are things you want to get better at?

Jong ADO – Aruba as assistant referee

Some appointments are too good to ignore. A friend got unfortunately injured and asked if I could replace him in a friendly game Jong ADO – Aruba. The first team is the u23 team from the professional club ADO Den Haag in the city I live in. Aruba came with the national team, and this time mostly players who played in The Netherlands. The coach wanted to see them in action in preparation for a World Cup qualifier against Barbados in June this year.

Last Monday a person from the local referee department called me if I was available for a match on Wednesday. Two teams ended with the same number of points in the league and there was a ‘decision game’ to determine the champion. Was this too good to ignore as well? In my opinion, I should ignore it. I made the promise to assist in the first game and I should not let others down and let them find another AR one day in advance. Turned out to be a good choice. It was quite a nice game, it’s also a good experience to officiate in a stadium. Drinks and some food after the game were well arranged. They took good care of the referees – thanks for that.

How do you get welcomed at football clubs? Do they offer you some drinks? Please share your experiences!

And if you want to see some nice pics of the game. There are a few of me below and the whole photo album is in the FB Group of Remco the photographer. Well worth a look.

Jong ADO - Aruba as assistant referee

Jong ADO - Aruba warming-up

Jong ADO - Aruba handshake

Refereeing in Scotland: my international debut

Two weeks ago I enjoyed a wonderful holiday and I even got the chance of refereeing in Scotland. The semi-final of the Brambles Cup on Islay was my international debut. A great experience!

Only one week before the holiday I tweeted that I was going to Scotland and that fast-forwarded everything toward my first match abroad. The same evening I posted the tweet I got in touch with a Scottish referee, a blogger from island of Islay and finally with Kilchoman Football Club who told me they were happy to have me as their referee.

When I got on the ferry to Islay I got a message that the game was postponed, but I was also welcome to referee the other semi-final between Bowmore and the Islay Wanderers. If that was fine as well? Ofcourse it was. Before I left The Netherlands I packed my suitcase with two referee outfits, a whistle, cards, pencils, a score card and football boots. I was ready for it!

On the matchday my wife and I arrived in the morning in Bowmore. We planned a walk around the village in the morning/early afternoon, that was fine before the game which started at 6.30 pm. But first thing we did in Bowmore was checking the pitches. I must say I was a little shocked when I saw a gravel pitch – never expected that (check it in background of pic below). I also brought my running shoes, but was happy there was a grass pitch as well.

Refereeing in Scotland: pitch inspection of Bowmore field

Refereeing in Scotland: pitch inspection of Bowmore field

The pitch

Every soccer pitch has some basic requirements, but you won’t hear me complain as a guest for this game. The sea and wind made the bars of the goal rusty and there was only one corner flag. The pitch was the smallest I’ve ever seen with only about 3 metres from the edge of the penalty area to the corner flag. That is fine with the Laws of the Game by the way, did you know that? Minimum width is 45 metres and this pitch was over 46 (2x 16,5 metres for penalty area, 7,32 metre for the goal, plus 2x 3 metres to corner flag).

The game

Jan doing warming-up

I always arrive at least an hour early before my games. I did not know how this would be for the games on Islay. I was the first person at the parking lot next to the pitch. After a couple of minutes an older man arrived who opened the dressing room. We talked about the upcoming game and he warned me that I should not expect top class football. “They are amateurs”, he says. “It’s even quite difficult on this island to get enough players.” The first players arrived in their work vans, using putty knives to get the dirt of their football boots. I was the first dressed up for the game and was one of the few that did a proper warming-up.

Talking to the older man was quite a good way of getting an idea what to expect during the game. It’s quite difficult when you want to prepare for games and you can’t find anything about the teams online. The only source I had was the Facebook page of Kilchoman FC who played against both teams earlier this year.

The words of the older man about getting enough players were quite spot on. The 11th team member arrived 1 minute before the kick-off. It meant that there was no 12th person available to be an assistant referee – that was up to me then. That’s quite difficult by the way, but did not get many complaints.

Coin toss during Islay game.

“No respect, wee men”

The Bowmore player were on average way older than the youngsters from the Islay Wanderers. Both teams wanted to win, but the young players had a better start. It did not result in a lead, and Bowmore scored after a deflection right before half-time. The Wanders scored twice shortly after the break – the 1-2 was a stunning free kick. But Bowmore did not give up and fought back with two goals in the last 10 minutes of the game. Then the Islay Wanderers coach said something that quite surprised me. “No respect, wee men”. I realised he meant that the young players should not look up to the older players and should not be afraid to challenge them – in a fair way – and give everything they had. But with every football association having a respect campaign, it sounded a little odd to me.

Lessons of this foreign game?

Players were maybe a little surprised a guy from The Netherlands took charge of their game. They wondered why someone has chosen to take some time during his holiday to ref them. A fan that came a little late asked with a Scottish accent: “Who’s the ref? He looks professional”. That felt good. I think it’s a good lesson for every referee that no matter what level you officiate your appearance should be good.

And even though the basic requirements of the pitch were not 100%, this game showed me how much people love to play football and that they like that there is a referee who wants to officiate the game. It’s about working hard to win, but give eachother and the referee a handshake afterwards. I must admit I really enjoyed it.

If you can officiate a game when you’re abroad for a holiday or maybe at a tournament, take that chance. You will learn from it!

After the game both coaches walked up to me and told me it was common both would give me 10 pounds as match fee. If that was okay? I would have done it for free, but the Scotch with a cheese board in the hotel bar was a good finish of a wonderful experience.

The day after …

The day after the game my wife and I walked into the Bruichladdich distillery for a tasting (it was awesome and tasteful!). “How are you doing, ref”, said the guy who scored the winning goal. He worked at the distillery. “You handled the game well. It must be different to ref a bunch of hooligans.”

Yes, it was. But it was great fun 🙂

Football game on Islay.