“2 to 1. Them,” I was told by a familiar face as we arrived, my husband jogged to the other end of the field to join the coach.
I didn’t sit. I had only just arrived, and had catching up to do. I stood, snapped away, taking pictures.
It’s always harder for me, watching the older kids play soccer, because they play with so much more forethought than the younger ones. A smaller child can kick the ball and be surprised by the force behind it, or surprise himself as he learns the skill just by doing it. It’s fascinating to watch. By the time you’re a teenager, though, if you’ve been playing a while, you play with intention. You focus on the ball, your movements deliberate, you plant you foot against the skin of the ball and sail it across the grass with force, knowing each step with your cleat into the grass thrusts you closer to the goal. You shield the ball with your hip, and this team, the one my daughter was opposing, threw in a couple elbows for good measure. You could see the deliberate acts on their part, cheating to win, and a ref who was failing to say a word.
Finally a child went down, a child on our team, kicked in the gut. She writhed on the ground, clutching her side, and the ref continued on with the game, said nothing as he shuffled his gangly body towards the other direction. Our parents were calling out as my daughter’s coach yelled, too. The ref became aware and stopped the game, but not because of the injury, but to yell at our coach for yelling at him. After his reprimand and not even a glance at the injured girl, he placed the ball on the ground where it had been, and gave it to the opposing team to kick, not us, like a penalty against us. We got loud and screamed at him for what was happening, the girl still injured, no sub offered while she held her side. All-of-a-sudden, amidst our screams, a mysterious “hand ball” call was called against our team in the box, and it was a one-on-one penalty shot. For them.
One-on-one. One of those “ones” was my daughter, as she was playing in the goal.
A penalty shot neither coach even saw “happen” (yes, even the opposing coach said there was no hand ball). It was quite clear the ref was blatantly biased. (As it turned out, we found out later his daughter was on the opposing team.)
My daughter did not save the ball in the one-on-one.
My daughter went on to almost be kicked in the face when she went down to save the ball, later, and the player kicked the ball out of her hands, and again, no call by the ref. Yet another score.
The game did not get better after that.
A certain mom got very loud and shared with the entire crowd that this ref clearly should not officiate, and would’ve gladly gotten kicked off the field to have had that dirtbag of a ref actually hear
my her words (I’m still not sure how he didn’t, a certain mom can be p-r-e-t-t-y loud).
After the game, the poor girl’s midriff was cushioned, arms clutching a chilly water bottle to ice her injury. We saw the area darkened, obvious bruising will develop, hopefully no breaks, though. I wanted to clutch her, splay her injury before that moronic ref, show him firsthand what he had done, that it could’ve been his daughter writhing on the ground with another official who ignored her, how would he feel about that? But she wasn’t of my skin to expose before him, he just heard grumbles from the side and complaints from our coaches. It took every.ounce.of.me to not walk up to him and smack the cheat out of him, to have it out on the field, with God and everyone as a witness. I did, however, speak to the sports director insisting that dimwit never officiate our games again, especially when his daughter’s team is involved.
(I wasn’t surprised to hear the sports director not know about that tidbit.)
The day wasn’t all a loss, though. I was able to capture some amazing pictures of my children, all putting up with their hothead of a mom from the sideline.
We go through a lot of crap to have them play season after season, with double- and triple-booked time slots, the hot sun, dirty cheating coaches and officials alike as we’re hopping from field to field trying to cram it all in.
Thankfully the games this time were close enough that I was able to watch my kindergartner while seeing his sister in goal on her field.
Another thing I am thankful for, his game only lasts 20 minutes, so we can quickly scramble from his field to the next without missing much, since his game is so much shorter.
The air may have been muggy, the distaste for that unfairly-called game is still swirling around in my mouth and will for some time, but the pride from seeing my children play, from hard work, sweat and a job well done, despite kids who cheat with adults that let them, just to see your child blossom in a sport like this is beyond amazing.
Now, if only we could have had a ref who actually wanted to teach these kids to play fair, our night may have almost been perfect.
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