Sunday, November 16, 2008

Semi Sweet!

It is currently Saturday evening in New Zealand on Nov 16th and I am just sitting in the Internet Room on my last night. I will back up a few days and let you know what has been going on here.

The day after I found out that I would be retained until the end of the tournament, I was notified that I would be refereeing the semi-final match between Korea and England on Thursday Nov 13th in Christchurch. Yay!!! One of my goals when I arrived in New Zealand was to visit all 4 cities of the tournament: Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. I had refereed in both Hamilton and Wellington, and I have been living in the Hyatt Regency in Auckland for the past 4 weeks…so…Christchurch was the only city I had left to visit, and to have the honour of refereeing the semi-final there…so cool!

Me and my team of Mayte (Mex), Yvonne (El Sal), and Kirsi (Finland), left for Christchurch on Wed evening. We arrived at the hotel around 9pm, had dinner, did our pre-match meeting, and went to bed. The next morning we had breakfast and then spent a couple of hours (and a couple of dollars) out exploring the city and buying some souvenirs. Christchurch is called the “Garden City” and has a strong English influence. It is a beautiful old city with a square in the center with an old cathedral. There is also a 6 km park in the heart of the city with 30 soccer fields and a free golf course. While we wandered around, we talked to a lot of people (well I did most of the talking as I was the only one who really spoke English), and it was neat because everyone knew about the tournament and were excited to meet us. That is the difference between a big city and a small city!

The morning of the game I was, of course, nervous, but really excited. I had refereed both teams before so I knew what to expect, although, having said that, a semi-final match adds a whole new level of pressure to the game. I have to say, it was an extremely competitive game with many difficult decisions. At the end of the day, I am happy with my performance in the game. Korea beat England 2-1 and because of the close score, the game never really let up. In the 90th minute, one of my assistants rolled her ankle pretty badly, and I stopped play to go over and see if she was OK. For a moment, we weren’t sure if she could continue, and the 4th official may have to replace her, but…she stuck it out, and finished the game. Immediately after the game, she was taken to the hospital for X-rays, but it was just a sprain, and she will be as good as new in a few days.

Being part of such a highly competitive and important match was a great experience. It was heartbreaking to see the faces of the England team after the game. They have all worked so hard, it’s just too bad that everyone can’t win! There’s the teacher in me.

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