A video referee who takes initiative

Umpire Peter Wright caused a lot of confusion among the players during the hockey match between New Zealand and The Netherlands for the 3rd place in the Champion’s Trophy.

The video referee got to answer the question whether the ball has touched a Dutch foot, which is not allowed in field hockey. The South African match official took some initiative and also told the umpires on the pitch that the ball was out just before the ball has touched a Dutch foot.

And that’s what he wasn’t supposed to do. In field hockey a team can call for a video referee just once and when they got it right, they still keep that opportunity. About the same as the hawk-eye system in tennis, only with less opportunities. The Dutch team should have questioned if the ball has crossed the line. They did not, so the referee shouldn’t investigate the situation.

The field referees called for a goal kick, which eventually was the correct decision. That’s what refereeing is about. Right?

SummerRefs: Mike Cowie from New Zealand

Today, the second edition of SummerRefs has something special: the referee comes from southern hemispere, so this actually is a WinterRefs. In this section refs from all over the world and all with different experiences will tell about their refereeing career and how they prepare for next season during this summer break.

Each Saturday a new profile will be posted online, and the second person who answers the five questions (5W’s) is Mike Cowie from New Zealand.

Name: Mike Cowie
Age: 20
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Started refereeing: in 2007
Grade: Level 4 (Level 1 being the lowest)

Mike Cowie

Who do you think you are (as referee)?
“I would hate to have to say “I am a referee similar to x,” but there are certainly a few referees that I consider as good models to try to emulate certain aspects of their game. But some referees who I do take a lot from:

Peter O’Leary – One of New Zealand’s representatives at the last world cup. He’s tall, like me, and he is an outstanding communicator, and a brave decision-maker. He doesn’t so much demand respect as earn it.

Howard Webb – Well, world cup final referee, he’s got to be on the list! Again, like Peter, an excellent communicator, a brilliant referee for those cruch games, and I like that he doesn’t give soft cards for technical offenses until the player gives him no other option- he’s good at man-managing those situations.

Collina – A true student of the game, it seems he often knew more about the teams he was refereeing that what the teams themselves knew about their opponent. His performance on the 2002 final has to be one of the best ever, and the smiles on his face during that match were never forced- he was quite simply in the zone, in his element, the absolute peak of the absolute best.”

Why did you start refereeing?
“A classmate had taken the course, officiated one game as an AR, and then quit. He suggested I take the course a few weeks later, so I did, and I started refereeing the year after that.”

What are your goals in refereeing?
“I’m not really a goal-setting type. I’m 20 years old, the sky’s the limit. I am aware that even if I do achieve a high enough level of performance to become an elite referee, the amount of dedication and sacrifice that needs to be made- to my family and to my career- might simply be too high. But I’m too young to be building a ceiling on my future yet.”

“In the short term, the aims are always the same- appointments to the biggest matches at the level I am officiating at, or appointments to games at the next level, which would be ASB Premiership (the national league) as an AR, or to the top Federation league in my region as a referee.”

Which decision would you like to recall?
“There are lots that I’d love to have a second look, but on saturday apparently I missed a player who stuck his hand into the air to handle a ball above his head! It led to a yellow card for dissent when I later gave a penalty for an obvious handling offense.”

What do you do in preparation for next season?
“We’re in the middle of our winter season at the moment (national leagues run in summer and local/regional leagues run in winter.) We train right through the summer at least a couple of times a week, plus we have national leagues running- I was an AR on the National Men’s Youth and National Women’s Youth Leagues.”

“But just as the pre-season matches were beginning for the winter leagues, Christchurch was struck by a devastating earthquake which killed 181 people and caused massive damage. Amazingly the top league in the region started on time a month later, but during that time the last thing on anyone’s mind had been football. Certainly my fitness after a month of comfort-eating and not training was not quite where it had been, and further disruptions to my University timetable since have had me often unable to attend training sessions. All in all I will be very happy to see the end of 2011.”

Read the previous parts of this section:
1. Pedro Nuno Mendes from Portugal

Are you interested in answering the 5W’s, please let me know via @DutchReferee on Twitter or e-mail to dutchreferee at gmail.com.

World Cup referees are important for New Zealand

Two head referees from the same country at the same World Cup tournament is quite unique. This year there are three countries which provide more than one refereeing team: Uruguay (Larrionda and Vazquez), Mexico (Archundia and Rodriguez) and New Zealand (Hester and O’Leary).

The situation for the latter country is a more exceptional. There was never a referee from the New Zealand leading a match. Michael Hester from Auckland (NZ) had the premiere in last week’s World Cup match between South Korea and Greece. The Dutch Referee blog contacted Ken Wallace, the New Zealand Football Referee Development Officer. In this interview he talks about about refereeing in New Zealand and the importances of having two national referees at this World Cup.

At the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002 assistant referee Paul Smith was the first and only match official from New Zealand who ever officiated at a global tournament. Michael Hester was the first Kiwi who was in full charge of a game at such a tournament. Peter O’Leary has been only a fourth official so far. How important is it for New Zealand that two referees represent the country at the World Cup?

Wallace: “It is important for all countries as it shows there is a clear pathway that leads from local parks to the biggest football tournament in the world. Potential recruits and current referees can see on tv the guys they know or can relate to. Michael Hester and Peter O’Leary have been excellent role models and have accepted their responsibility to promote football and refereeing in NZ.”

How did Michael Hester perform in last week’s match between South Korea and Greece?

“Michael Hester and his team did well. The game was easy, fair and safe and the result was determined by the players.”

Some media in Europe dislike referees who are not from Europe or South America. They say Asian, African en Oceanian referees are not good enough, because they never officiated under such a high pressure as in for example the Champions League. Do you agree with that?

“Many games have pressure but all games are played on a pitch with the same markings, according to the same laws and with 22 legs on one team and 22 legs on the other. All referees make incorrect decisions and occasionally have poor games whether or not they are refereeing in the Champions League, have refereed in the Champions League or will never referee in that competition.”

Is there any difference between the NZ referees and for example the European referees in training style or preparation?

“The game in NZ is amateur and all referees have other jobs. Referee development and training takes place at night after work or at the weekend. The FIFA Development Programme for the 2010 World Cup has been an excellent programme and has ensured that all the World Cup candidates have been able to get the same coaching and development activities.”

What’s the future of NZ refereeing?

“Referee development is simply about more and better. We want more referees and we want to make our existing cohort better. FIFA’s development programmes have been important in getting greater world-wide consistency and uniformity in the interpretation and application of the Laws of the Game. This has helped referees and given greater certainty to players and coaches.”

In Holland we’ve always problems of getting referees for all matches. Are there enough people interested in a refereeing career in your country?

“We need more referees.”

The New Zealand referees have appointments as 4th officials in the matches 17-24 at this World Cup. Hester will assist in the match between England and Algeria and O’Leary in the game France-Mexico. The appointments for the final matches in the group stages will follow next week.