Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day of Debriefing

Today, following training we had our debriefing session.  For all you non-referee types this is when the referee instructors show us the positive and negative video situations from our matches.  All the referees (who aren't on a game for that day) are in attendance.  During the debriefing session the instructors show video clips from the last 4 games, as opportunities for all the referees and assistance to learn.  From the moment the meeting kicks-off you are pretty much crossing your fingers that what you saw in the match in real-time is exactly what all 16 cameras picked up, including in slow-motion.   As a referee we only get one chance and it is a split second at that.  It is all on video, so no excuses only learning for the next time.  Needless to say the USA ref crew did well, with a few learning points.  And for all you referees out there, there is ALWAYS something to learn or improve upon - always.

Overall the games so far have been good as well as the officiating.  Some points of emphasis that we discussed today include taking care with elbows and good use of cautions for breaking up a promising attack.

Other News:  we received the second round of appointments and the good news is that the USA referee crew has been assigned a second match.  July 3rd, 9am PST on ESPN Brazil v Norway.  Should be an amazing match.  Set your DVRs :)

And of course the final great news from today - USA WNT beat North Korea 2-0.  A great start for both USA teams at the Women's World Cup 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beyond Words

Okay, before I forget, there was a really cool article featuring Kari that came out today. If you have some time, it really is worth reading. http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/news/newsid=1461006/index.html

Wow, first Women's World Cup game in the books for me and VP. This really is an experience beyond words, but I'll try my best.

After a leisurely morning spent mentally preparing for the match, we were driven to the stadium by a fellow FIFA referee from Germany who we knew from previous tournaments. It was really nice to catch up and travel with someone who understands the pressures of the referees.

We also lucked out in having one of the closest venues possible which allowed us to spend the night at "home." Along the way to the field, we picked up a police escort for the last leg of the journey.

Since we had done our pre-game meeting last night, we had plenty of time at the stadium to take care of all the details like checking the field, checking the ball pressures, working out a few logistics of the stadium, and warming up.

We had a great fourth official who seemed to always be one step ahead and anticipated what we would need as a team. It was really nice to work with someone who was so on top of things and it gave us the luxury of spending all of our time focusing on the actual match.

When we were warming up, we noticed that the temperature was quite a bit warmer than during the training sessions since we arrived. I lucked out, and just as the game was getting going, the shade shifted just enough so that I was always in the shade. For a good portion of the game, the fourth official and I had a different climate from the rest of the team. We estimated that Veronica's side was probably 10 degrees warmer than we're used to (Fahrenheit, don't worry, we haven't allowed ourselves to be lured over to that whole Celsius thing completely yet).

It's strange how time seems to play tricks on you. When were getting ready for the game and driving to the field, and even a little bit while warming up, time seemed to move slowly. We were all looking forward to this match and it's kind of like Christmas morning when you can't wait for the moment to arrive. Things started to change when we were in the tunnel and during the walk out to the field. Somehow, time seemed to move both quickly and slowly. It seemed like each moment was experienced fully, the sounds of the crowd, the excitement of the players lining up behind us, the swell of emotion as the music behand to play and we stepped out onto the field, the national anthems, shaking the players' hands, and the coin toss. Everything was a full experience in and of itself, but suddenly it was over and we were running towards the nets for one last check. Then the game began.

For me, the match flew by. Like with the opening, each individual moment of the match seems so clear and crips in my head, but I couldn't believe it when the clock suddenly said 81:26. How could it have gone by so quickly? I remember the feel of that first run down the field, talking over the communication system to discuss match situations, and so many other things, but it felt like the game was over in a flash. When the final whistle blew, there were dualing emotions. Partly there was the thrill of successfully completing a match at the Women's World Cup. At the same time, there was this feeling of never wanting this to end. Even hours later, reliving the experience, I have goose bumps.

After the match, we caught up reading all the wonderful emails of support on our ride back home to the hotel. It's a special feeling to know there are so many people back home with us in spirit as we step onto the field.

Of course, this was not Kari's first game at the Women's World Cup. In fact, we have been told that by officiating this match, Kari has now officiated at more World Cups than any other referee. Other officials have done three World Cups, but this is Kari's FOURTH WOMEN"S WORLD CUP!!!!!!!!! It really is a privilege for me and Veronica as rookies to work our first game with her and share this experience.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sinsheim Here We Come!

The first assignments were announced today and we are working Nigeria v France! Officially, this is game number 2 of the tournament, but it actually kicks off a few hours before the opening match. If you want to watch, the game will be showing at 9am eastern time (6am west coast time) Sunday on ESPN 2 and ESPN3.com. We're so excited and looking forward to what should be a great match. Thank you to everyone for your support so far. We really appreciate it and will do our best to make you proud.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Official Referee Dinner

On Wednesday we had the official referee dinner which began with a trip to the Mayoral Palace in Frankfurt, located in the historic center of the city. The Mayor graciously welcomed the referees to the city of Frankfurt and invited several dignitaries to the event. The dignitaries included individuals who have contributed significantly to the development of women's football in Germany, including representatives from FFC (the local women's football club) and from Eintracht Frankfurt (which is allowing us to use their football facilities where we do our daily training sessions).

Frankfurt'a historical area is very beautiful. Upon leaving the event, we stumbled across this mobile Beer Bike, which essentially is a mobile pub.

After the event with the Mayor, we attended the official referee dinner. The official referee dinner is always a very special night, as on this night we are awarded medals of participation at the Women's World Cup along with an Adidas watch. It feels incredibly awesome to hold the medal, as it is a symbol of the long road the led us to the WC and the culmination of dream come true.

Here is a close up of the medal. The front has the World Cup trophy in the center and the backside reads FIFA.

We are awaiting appointments to the matches. Please click on this link to view a TV schedule of the matches: http://www.socceramerica.com/article/42655/2011-womens-world-cup-on-the-air.html

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On to the Games!

Today was the fitness test.  

No matter how hard you train, or how many times you run the FIFA Fitness test it is still daunting, as .01 seconds over the time limit can send you home.  Luckily our hard work paid off, in fact we improved our sprint times considerably and were well within the time limits.

Last night the rain hit us hard, waking many people during the night.  But a wet track and drizzle on and off did not slow us down.  In fact the wet, cool weather may have been a blessing in disguise, especially for me coming from the bay area and training these past several months in about 55 degree weather.

We did the test in 3 different groups.  Referees first and then the AR's are spit into 2 separate groups.  We left the hotel at 7:30am and returned by 1:30.  A long but very rewarding morning, where all but one offical past the fitness test (4th official, due to injury).  Unfortunately that referee will return to their home country tomorrow; heal and work hard and prepare for the next possible appointment.  We wish her the best of luck.

And now - On to the GAMES!!!

Referees after the Test

Assistant Referees after the test!

USA Referees post-test, waiting on the last group to finish their run.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Final Preperation

Well, the fitness test is Tuesday morning, so this mornings training was really focused on preperpation for tomorrow.  A good long warm-up, with some speed work.  Followed by a relaxation and positive thinking session.  Everyone is trained and ready to go, just one last hurdle before assignments are handed out.

This afternoon the referees had to particiate in a "moving head shot video".  I wasn't sure what it was either, but apparently prior to match kick- for each game they will show a 10 second video of the referee on the big screen in the stadium.  The referee is part of the show and FIFA has decided to include us in the pre-game video montage.  Lucikly I likely won't see this video of myself, as I'll be busy on the pitch preparing to blow the kick off whistle :)

Wish us luck tomorrow morning!  We are trained, fit and ready to go!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Medical Testing & Free Time

Yesterday we had quite a laid back day that began with an hour and a half of medical testing, training on our own, and then we had the entire afternoon free. The medical testing was very thorough consisting of an orthopedic examination and two different types of cardiac exams. These medical tests were very interesting, as we had a EKG and an ultra sound of our heart. We are still awaiting the results, but the initial results are positive.

After the testing, as we skipped the fitness and technical training with the group (due to the medical testing), we trained on our own--either in the gym or outside. It is important to stay on a training routine to stay mentally and physically sharp.

After lunch, we had the rest of the afternoon free which we took advantage of to walk around, explore our surroundings, and do some shopping. Of course there is a Starbucks here, so I had my customary Chai tea latte. Close to our hotel there are lots of shops, including this open air market.

We spotted this cool advertisement promoting the Women's World Cup, with Birgit Prinz heading an Adidas ball into a glass building. The Adidas ball is an actual replica of the Speedcell--the official tournament ball.

Below is picture of us below the Prinz replica.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Arrival in Germany

We've arrived here in Germany safe and sound. Veronica and I arrived at the hotel one right after the other. I can't tell if her driver was super fast or mine was just a little on the slower side since I didn't see her in the baggage claim and her van pulled up right behind my van at the hotel. Well, everyone got here which is the main thing. One of the benefits of living near a major airport like Los Angeles is having a direct flight...I never get tired of flying business class.

One of the challenges of travelling around the world is trying to deal with jet lag. One of the tricks we've tried to employ is to immediately get on the new time zone. Since we arrived around the middle of the night according to my internal clock, the challenge was to keep busy. I checked out the room and the view and unpacked before lunch. I took some photos of the room, but I'm having a little trouble uploading them right now. I'm hoping things will speed up once there are fewer people connecting. After lunch, there was the obligatory walking around the hotel to see what was what. The great about being one of the first people to arrive at a tournament is getting to welcom each new arrival. Even though it's been months since we last saw each other, it's almost as if it were yesterday.

Since I had seven or eight hours until I could legitimately go to sleep, I decided to go for a short jog around Frankfurt to loosen up a bit. Frankfurt has some lovely parks with cool statues, especailly right around where our hotel is located. The city is a really cool mixture of modern skyscrapers and historic architecture. At one point, I stumbled on what appeared to be a business district. I felt a bit out of place in running clothes, but I figured I could be forgiven as just another crazy American.

We had our first training this morning and the facilities are beautiful. We did a little technical training with some penalty area decisions working on teamwork and we also did standard running exercises to get back in the swing of things. Now that everyone is here and we're really getting into it, it's hard to contain the sense of excitement and anticipation. So, we're here and just enjoying every minute as it comes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Final Send Off Match - USA vs. Mexico

This last Sunday, in New Jersey, we had our last and final match as a crew before leaving to Germany. We are so fortunate to have worked various matches as a trio to prepare and improve our communication as a team. We are extremely thankful to US Soccer, which has been very supportive from the moment we were selected as candidates for the WWC.

It is always exciting to have an opportunity to work matches with national teams. In this case, the fact that both teams are gearing up for the World Cup, made our appointment to this match even more special. Just like the teams who use these friendly matches as an opportunity to fine-tune their game, so do the referees as we critically analyze and review these matches to discuss areas of improvement.

In addition, traveling for matches and experiencing different temperatures and levels of humidity are also ideal settings for preparation. As all three of us are from California, which has had a rather cool and rainy spring and is known for having a dry heat climate, we were delighted with the heat and humidity in New Jersey (which normally we would find unpleasant). We are likely to have to deal with some humidity in Germany, so these conditions gave us a taste of what it may feel like having to work really hard physically in an uncommon environment so that it does not affect us mentally. Training in different settings helps us prepare for some of the challenges we may encounter based on environmental factors.

Check out some of the highlights from the match: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZB0MoNHF1U

Thursday, June 2, 2011


As we get ready for the game this weekend, I thought I'd give you a brief glimpse into the process leading up to the tournament. Besides working matches and watching games on tv and in person, there is a lot of running and weight lifting and other training to be done. It can definitely be hard getting up before the sun and putting in a full workout before work, but I think it's going to be worth it. Every time I feel like hitting the snooze button, I try to picture running down the field at the tournament and how good it will feel to really be prepared. For a look at some of our fitness training at a tournament, check out this website: www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/photogallery/gallery=1390723.html#1390576.

The test wasn't quite as fun as it looks in the pictures, but hopefully with all this training it'll be that fun in a few weeks. In the meantime, the training will certainly come in handy this weekend as we officiate the USA v Mexico in New Jersey.