Saturday, March 14, 2009


I marshalled in SPNS last year and I had a good conversation with our Malaysian Marshall's Ultimate Junaidi who kindly came down to Singapore to help us with the marshalling. I told him that I watched football match a few days before and I noticed a "No Respect No Referee No Game" banner on the side boards and I told Junidi about it. He was most taken to that slogan and talked about how the game needs something like this. The slogan is very succint - without any respect for the marshalls - there would be no game.

In the light of the incident that happen to us, I would like to talk about how we treat out marshalls. Although it was a bad call against us, I still have a lot of respect for the marshalls. I even got mail from one of them and it was really nice of this person to write to me.

When I was playing and coaching water polo - we would argue and hurl abuse at the referees all the time. This happens because as junior players - we follow what the senior players do. I used to play with guys who played on the national team so they were like gods, and if they yelled at the refs we thought it was cool to do so too.

Later on when I was captain of my school team in Australia and coaching other school teams. I realised that- abuse and arguing was wrong. There is simply no point in arguing and abusing the refs. When was the last time a player who abused a ref got him to change his mind? When was the last time you saw a ref resend his penalty decision after the culprit argued and yelled into his face? NEVER.

When I was a coach my no. 1 rule to my players was to never argue with the ref. Just accept the call and set yourself up for the next play or the free throw. There is no point in arguing and less in hurling abuse at the ref. Its something which I feel is a waste of time and energy and it will never change the ref's decision.

Now in paintball the game is so much faster- the refs have to make instant calls. When it comes to 'run throughs', it usually ends up in a mess of who-shot-who-first. Despite having so many eyes on the field - referees can still make mistakes - that is a fact of life. They work hard all day and by the final games come, they will be tired and it will be dark. Shit happens.

I am calling all players to show more restraint and respect for the marshalls. I believe there has to be some order in the system. The English Football Association is trying hard to stamp out referee abuse with their 'No Respect, No Referee, No Game'. I think this is a great slogan for our game too. Let this be a reminder that the marshalls are the ones who run the games - there would not be any tournament without them.

During our semi final I was more annoyed at that guy who argued on than was I annoyed at the refs who got the call wrong. I was more disappointed at the refs for letting him influence them. I feel that only the team captains should be the ones allowed to go and speak to the marshalls and strictly no one else. And if the head marshall makes a decision - then respect the call and lets move on.

Sadly I feel that some of the behaviour of these D1 players who guest for D3 teams are bringing their bad attitudes down to our divison. This is setting a bad example for the junior players. I know this because in the light of the bad call against us - I have been getting emails from people in Division 4 about the bad calls they got and their feelings towards the marshalls. I can sense that the examples of these D1 guys are starting to influence the guys in Division 4. My reply to these guys who feel let down by the marshalling led me to expand it on this post.

Please have a think about it and where you want your game to go.

Here is a very good article written by the BBC's football commentator Alan Green- he is my favourite football commentator because he is very knowledgeable about the game and he is very fair. In this article he criticizes the Football Association's 'Respect' campaign but he still upholds the creed that no one should never abuse the referees.

The 'Respect' campain is organised by the English Football Association and more information can be found here.

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