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Question Number: 32754

Other 9/27/2018

RE: Rec Under 9

Paul Denney of Benbrook, TX USA asks...

First time asker, so let me know if you need anymore information.

I coach 8-year old girls in a rec league. Two teams in the league are much more aggressive physically than the rest of the teams in the league. We played one of those teams tonight, and I thought they committed several fouls, none of which were called. As an example: when closing on an opposing player with the ball, the girls on this team run with arms outstretched towards the girl with the ball to push the girl off the ball. Another example: when chasing a player from behind, a girl on this team extended her arm to catch the ball handler from behind and then slammed her elbow into her back. Third example, defending a breakaway, a defender chased down and ran next to our attacker and threw an elbow to separate the attacker from the ball. It wasn't an egregious elbow that caught the girl's chin or caused her to fall. But it definitely cost her the ball.

None of these were called as fouls. Nothing like this ever seems to be called in our league. I'm not an experienced soccer player, so I'm truly going off of my gut when those look like fouls to me.

Please advise. Are these fouls? We had a girl lose a tooth thanks to an elbow tonight for heaven's sake.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Paul
Thanks for the question
As described all these incidents would be fouls punished by a direct free kick.
As to the reason why they are not called I cannot really say.
Now I can surmise a number of reasons probably the most obvious is that at Under 9 Leagues assign young inexperienced officials who skills have not yet been honed in foul recognition. Probably seen as just coming togethers.
Now at this level it should be about FUN and certainly not played in a way that risks injury to player. Losing a tooth can happen in any sport through an accident yet it should not be as the result of rough play.
My suggestion is that this type of play needs to be discussed within the league. Rough play should be not be tolerated at Under 9s. Teams can agree to tone down the contact levels such as discouraging charging, physicality
I would go as far as to say that if the games were becoming ultra physical with these two teams I would decline to play them. While referees can call fouls and clamp down on illegal physicality they will find it difficult to control the style and ethos of the games without more serious sanction which is not part of ULittle soccer. A referee can perhaps deal with one or two rough players / challenges yet when it is a teams style the only option is cards which should not be a feature of ULittle games.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Paul,
first off thanks for coming to us to ask a question and also for your efforts to give the kids a chance to play. Coaching is great fun and it is good you take their safety seriously. I hope the league address the inconsistencies of foul recognition with a program that tracks, monitors and mentors the referees who do these matches. They should also address the over enthusiastic coaches who believe rough play has its place in youth soccer.

What we CAN or should see as a foul is a straight arm shiver or a cocked elbow with a judo chop follow through or a pivoted swinging action. . These actions are fairly clear to discern. A shoulder shrug arm push off not so easy. One of the more troubling aspects for younger referees is the fact of discerning doubtful or trifling contact that on a strict interpretation would be a foul yet they rarely get called.

Admittedly youth could use a bit more foul calling to calm down the excited spectators just as much as the players. You will note that there is a counter measure as they lean in both players will wave the arm or use it to push or keep the other away or to grab hold. Keep in mind to that what we SEE, what we perceive is based on what we see has to do with the angle of view and how well we can discern foul recognition as something the MUST be dealt with versus what is tolerated, doubtful or trifling . I also find newer referees are more afraid of calling something in case they are wrong versus being right. I attribute some of that to the pressure placed upon them from the exuberant touchlines that scream out the perceived injustices or errors .

The idea behind a Fair charge is in essence an easing off the ball challenge by one player over another . Unfortunately the stronger more physical players will win the majority of these battles simples to the physics of mass & velocity

We encourage kids in competitive settings to NOT back down to challenge for ball possession, parents scream first to the ball along the touchlines, so in their own way they try to figure out EXACTLY what adults are saying?

The use of hands for spatial awareness, nearness to contact, is not a foul, we use the hands to gauge where our opponents are, to stop them from backing over us, to ward them away if they are close

It is a fact that newer referees learn by doing the youth games so their experience is somewhat limited . Taking a written course does not prepare you for the practical aspects of foul recognition. Mentoring, training & experience combined with character & effort on the part of those who work the middle. In other words they learn at the expense of those they are refereeing.

Although a referee may well not fully grasp foul recognition their integrity is separate from their abilities . It is important to remember that . They are not favoring one so much as applying what THEY believe to be true equally. I know it s hard to think that when a kid goes to the ground or an injury occurs.

It is also a fact that kids of the same age level can have a variety of skill sets & physical features plus those with aggressive tendencies tend to intimidate the daisy pickers. I am not belittling daisy pickers, it is a euphemism for those not quite so intense, not that they are better or worse.

The LOTG do allow players to HAVE contact . It is NOT ALWAYS the fault of a poor tackle or bad intent. Soccer is a physical game ,so lets be clear. Although I have seen coaches run on screaming injustice if their keeper gets hurt or a player suffers a bad fall blaming the referee. Yet coaches who encourage physicality in youth I think are wrong in their approach. Sometimes circumstances, sometimes a newer referee still trying to figure out fair from foul but running around shoving players is not a way go. Winning the ball , winning the match if coaches equate their kids winning by being able to get away with fouling it is a sad state of affairs & one the league needs to takea hard look at.

Below are a couple of FAIR challenges look at how physical the two very good legal shoulder charges are


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