Category 3 referee Lloyd Wilson blogs from a tournament in Norway.
Day 1 – On the Saturday I used this opportunity to get to know some of the boys better as the first games were not scheduled to start until Sunday morning. After some breakfast the group of boys I met from England decided to take me for a tour in Oslo as most of them had been to the Norway Cup before. After having spent several hours in Oslo in the pouring rain we made our way back to our accommodation via tram – hoping I had not left sunny Scotland for weather like this all week – thankfully it was just a shower. I went to bed early to ensure I was fresh for the next day’s match.
Day 2 – After being given my games, I spent my morning mixing with the other referees to find out how they were coping with their games. Most of the games were between Norwegian teams. I couldn’t believe the lack of disagreement of refereeing decisions on and off the field – this was a bit of a culture shock for me.
The lack of problems on the pitch gave me the opportunity to practice other positions and work out how I planned to communicate to foreign players.
After having spent three games working with a Turkish and Spanish referee ,all of which were observed, I was ready for my dinner. After dinner, we all watched some of the Olympics and by that time it was time to head to bed.
Day 3 – In my first game I acted as an assistant referee followed by two referee appointments. With the sun blazing and the temperatures rising I knew it was going to be hard work, even more so knowing my first match as referee was between a team from Brazil and a team from Turkey. The game passed with only two yellow cards and no drama. The footballing ability of the young Brazilian side was absolutely fantastic to referee and very refreshing. My second match as a referee was more challenging. I was refereeing a team from Iraq and a team from Jamaica, both teams were playing similar to the Scottish way; hard football with no holding back.
Day 4 –
I was on standby duty today. This means if a referee did not turn up for their match, I was next in line.
I refereed a girls’ under-16s match which passed without incident in the morning. I then had three matches in the afternoon – two as assistant ref and one as a refere.
This was a busy day. My calves and hamstrings were tight so I visited the Sports Therapist.
To end the day, the Norway Cup Organisation ordered hundreds of large pizzas to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Norway Cup. We also had a minutes silence in memory of everyone who was killed in the shootings that took place in Oslo almost one year to date.
Day 5 – Quarter and semi-finals day. A time for strong refereeing.
The atmosphere in the football arenas became tense – coaches and parents became more vocal, and teams became more physical.
I was appointed to referee two semi-finals – one of them with two Norwegian teams and the other with a Spanish and Brazilian team.
It was a busy time for me. After both matches I managed to accumulate a total of seven cautions and one red card, along with three penalty kicks.
My observer was from the English FA who said I had breezed through the games. The only fault was that I didn’t move the ball away when the player ignored me. It was probably the language barrier as not everyone speaks fluent English.
Day 6 – Now with all the quarter finals out of the way and all the semi-finals well underway, the teams are not making things easy for officials and with several games abandoned due to waterlogged pitches from excessive rain, everything very quickly went from good to bad.
Several games were abandoned today due to waterlogged pitches.
3G pitches were hastily selected to get the games played. It was vital they somehow went ahead. The finals were live on Norwegian TV.
I had a match as an assistant and as a referee. I was assistant to Ollie Yates in one game. His game went to penalty kicks and he finished with three cautions and one red card.
My game was slightly quieter and finished in extra time, with only one caution.
The Norwegian observer was very impressed with our handling of both games and it was good to get his views on things we did that he may have done differently.
Later that evening I was awarded with ‘Best New Referee of the Year Award’. I was honored to have been selected for this award out of so many new referees and I am very thankful for this. After the awards ceremony all the British referees made their way into Oslo for a meal to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Norway Cup.
Day 7 – Today is Finals Day. The downside was no British official was appointed to a final. However I believe last year there were several British officials who received finals. It is only fair the appointments are equally appointed each year.
Today we watched a couple of the finals live on TV and since it was a cracking day with the sun shining and temperatures rising we went to an outdoor swimming pool – we used this as a recovery session. After 20 minutes of front crawl I doubt my body agreed I was ‘recovering’. I had to leave for a flight at 4am the next morning so my plan was to get to bed early, I’m not sure who I was kidding; I ended up going to bed at 1am and getting a couple of hours sleep before having to leave for the airport – I’m sure this did me more harm than good as I felt a lot worse.
Day 8 – After a couple of hours sleep I woke up at around 3am ready to leave for the airport at around 4am.
As I arrived at the airport I suddenly realised I had lost my wallet – thankfully I had my boarding pass and passport.
I just had to accept I lost over £100 in cash. There was no point in worrying about it as I still had a long wait ahead of me.
After finally taking to the skies with a Ryanair flight I decided to try and stay awake.
Thankfully I did and the flight passed in no time, the down side was landing in Edinburgh to grey skies and pouring rain.
Finally, thinking back on the experience, it was fantastic. I met some fantastic refereeing colleagues and observers who encouraged me with lots of positive feedback along with great advice.
I hope I get the opportunity to return next year and if any of you reading this also get the opportunity to go, I would highly recommend you grab the opportunity with both hands.