Luis Melville attends futsal refereeing course

Go4Goal’s head futsal coach Luis Melville shares his experience following a recent FA Futsal Referees course.

As Go4Goal’s futsal head coach, I decided it would be helpful to have a deeper understanding of the laws of the game from a referee’s perspective. It might also benefit the players we coach to understand plus assist them to be better equipped to play the game. Prior to the course, some pre-reading was required to determine our current knowledge of existing futsal laws.

Our tutors were David Dixon and Andy Taylor, regular faces on the futsal scene, and our cohort of newbies consisted of players, football referees and the curious like myself, ranging from ages 15 to 55.

Reality check

I was about to discover just how difficult refereeing can actually be. Our tutors soon had us watching a clip that would test our observation skills and decision-making powers. As a group, we asked if we could review the clip, but our request was firmly rejected – in a futsal game, you only get one look at an incident in real time, after all.

For the sake of the exercises, they did eventually give us another look. Indeed it took six viewings and ten minutes, for us to decide the incident wasn’t a ‘DOGSO’ – Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity and concluded that a yellow card and free kick was the correct verdict.

‘BIG FOOTBALL’ and ‘LITTLE FOOTBALL’ was a phrase we heard a lot. ‘Little Football’ being Futsal. It was used to emphasise differences in laws and application of them in futsal. An example we explored was when a sixth foul is committed, even if it looked like a nailed-on goal scoring opportunity, we had to award a 10-metre penalty regardless, in case they missed the chance.

We then moved out onto the court to run through, corner kicks, kicks-ins, goal clearances, penalty kicks (6 & 10 metre variety) and free kicks.

There’s a multitude of signals to learn and master, 44 to be precise, in The FIFA Futsal Laws of The Game book. As we went through them, we looked like a very bad YMCA tribute act, but persistence paid off.

Learning from the best

Our opportunity to officiate came and we got a chance to see if Marc Birkett’s position as England’s premier futsal referee could be under threat. We were warned about committing the most heinous refereeing crime which was to end up standing opposite each other. This was bad. Very, very bad!

We played for an hour, focusing on refereeing and our ability (or at times inability) to be in the right position and ‘control the game’. It became clear the physical demands on the referees were huge.

The day ended with us being sent away to officiate in 5 games, take a Laws of The Game exam and meet up with Andy, to hopefully sign us off as fully-fledged futsal referees.

I’d recommend that any coach do this. It was a challenging experience and it gave me a deeper respect for what officials must deal with during a game.

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