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Samuel Ranz: the refereeing mathematician

Samuel Ranz is a young 22 year-old referee from Spain. “I don’t account on being a professional ref, that only happens to a very few of us”, he says. But he always wants to set a good performance on the field en see what he can reach with refereeing. “The most important match for me is the next one, always, and try to do my best.”

An interview from Dutch Referee Blog with Samual Ranz.

Please introduce yourself.
Samual Ranz: profile picture.“My name is Samuel Ranz and I’m 22. I live in Alcalá de Henares (near Madrid), the city that hosts my local referee association. As of today, I am a Level 6 referee (minding Level 1 as the top category), so my performances as a ref are in Level 6, known here as “Primera categoría regional”, the lowest category in which we act using assistant referees. I am also appointed as assistant for Level 4 and Level 5 matches when no Level 6 matches are available for me.”

“Talking about my personal life, I love other sports, like tennis or running. I hace just become a Graduate in Mathematics, my other passion, and will continue my studies as mathematician with a Master Degree next course. My Master’s thesis will be about Geometry.”

When and why did you become a referee?
“It’s a good question… When I was a child I played football in local football academies. So, four years ago I was thinking of playing again but a friend (yeah, he is a ref) told me to try as a referee. At first I denied, I thought he was crazy, but I decided to give refereeing a chance and leaving it when I wanted. I took a course and well, I have just completed my fourth season.”

How was your season?
“I think it has been a good one. I have just been promoted to Level 6 and I have enjoyed so much this category. It’s much better than Level 7, as you are assisted in these matches, which makes refereeing much easier than doing it alone (in Level 7 and below there are no “club assistants” and the Associations doesn’t appoint any assistants).”

Samual Ranz: line-up with teams before the match.
Samual Ranz: line-up with teams before the match.

How will you prepare for next season?
“This preparation has two parts: fitness and laws. For the fitness part, I will do the same as the other seasons: contact my fitness coach and do what he thinks is better for me. We have fitness test in August and in February/March season after season, so a good plan might start very softly on July the 1st and increase intensity until next season ends.”

“For the laws of the game, we have two written exams the same day our fitness test takes place. I will give a couple of readings to the “blue book” when FIFA sends me the new one and do tests and tests. After that, our RA will give us a lecture on the changes and its enforcement.”

How does your RA help you getting better?
“They provide us what I call a “passive help”. On one hand, there are three training sessions per week at a single venue intended for all the referees of Madrid (we are more than one thousand), so only a few attend these sessions. But Alcalá’s referees are very lucky as we have a fitness coach at our availability. He makes us personalized weekly and monthly plans attending to our needings and to our amount of matches and feelings. He has made a great job with us… I will be very brief: those who follow his training plans have never failed at fitness tests unless having an injury.

“For the fitness part, we are very lucky to have this kind of help, but attending to laws and mentoring, there is less help. Let me explain: there is a “laws office”, in which a Level 3 referee answers our questions about laws. In addition, this referee has opened a blog recently in which he talks sometimes about difficult match situations in recent matches and uploads FIFA videos, so they’re available for us all. I call this “passive help” as we have no sheduled formation since we become referees, and we have no mentors until we reach Level 4 (mind we have 9 levels for referees). There isn’t a person following our first year at refereeing or something similar. We have a more “free” system in which a former referee evaluates our performances in a fixed amount of matches and sends a report. This evaluations determine our qualifying and the top refs in a level are promoted and the bottom are relegated for the next season.

Samuel Ranz gives a yellow card.
Samuel Ranz gives a yellow card.
“Despite this lack of mentoring by our association, I have to say a very good thing about my partners: we ourselves talk sometimes about the laws and match situations. Me, for example, try to see as much games as I can. When it’s possible, I see a friend’s match with other friends, and after the match we tell him what we liked and disliked. This makes us learn ones from another’s performances. We also share specific information about teams, what gives us a key advantage in refereeing. But, remember, nothing of this is an official thing, this is done between friends.”

What are your goals in refereeing?
“To be honest, I have no specific goals. The most important match for me is the next one, always, and try to do my best. Being even more honest, I have to admit that Level 5 is better than Level 6, and so on, but the most important thing in my live is Mathematics, and I focus on it: I don’t account on being a professional ref, that only happens to a very few of us.”

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