Thursday, October 30, 2008
and hopefully more to come! What an experience in my 1st ever FIFA appointment. It was such an honour to be part of a world cup game! On Wed evening me and my equipo (team), flew to Wellington (about an hour flight) where the game was to be played. We had some difficulty getting our oversized bags, electronic substitution boards, beep flags, and my 'boyfriend' (communication system) onto the plane with us. When we travel for a game, we MUST carry on our bags because if, for some reason, they don't arrive...we would be better to not show up! So, after a bit of sweet talking, we were able to get everything on board.
Once we arrived in Wellington, we were met by our driver "Paul" (I think everyone here is named Paul), who took us on a small tour of Wellington, which is a beautiful habour city. We checked into our hotel, and found out that Rhianna and Chris Brown were staying there too, because they were doing a concert in town that evening. I kindy asked the concierge to not let them bother me for an autograph as I was very tired from my flight! :) Are you kidding...I stayed up as long as I could hoping to see them, but I didn't...too bad!
In the morning we left the hotel at 9:30am, actually no, by the time we left it was almost 10am because my spanish-speaking team did not understand when I told them to bring their white blouse for the game, so they brought their white T'shirt which meant that I had to go back upstairs to change!
We arrived at the stadium and went to do the field walk. This stadium was amazing! They call it the "caketin" because it is perfectly round. They use it for cricket and rugby and the soccer field could be marked north/south or east/west, it is that wide. Apparently there were about 10,000 spectators at the game, but it sure didn't seem like it because they were so far away from the field!
I have to say, walking into the stadium with the FIFA anthem playing, was an amazing experience. I was really excited to be part of all of it. So cool! The number of people who are volunteering is huge, ball boys, flag bearers, etc...
The game itself was also very interesting as you had 2 totally different styles of soccer, but both teams played at a very fast pace. England scored the 1st goal in the 71st min and the Brazillian GK was injured on the play and had to leave the field. Not a minute after the replacement GK came in, England scored again. This really took the wind out of Brazil's sails, and they were not able to regain their composure. Finally, England scored one more goal in the 84th minute to make the final 3-0. I had one yellow card for each team for recklass tackles, and no problems with the players at all. They were very respectful of each other, and of me....it was a great game to referee. I am happy with the job that I did and hope that I did Canada proud.
My next appointment is on Sun as a 4th official for 2 matches in Hamilton. The first game is between USA and Paraguay and the second between France and Japan. These should both be very good games.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The appointments have been released for the 1st 8 games. I will referee the game between Brazil and England. Yay! I am really excited about this game because I think it is going to be a good game with 2 football (soccer for those of you in Canada) powerhouses. There will definately be contrasting styles of play which will make for an entertaining game to watch. We have been working with the communication system in training for the last 2 days, but it hasn't been working that well, mainly because there has been 3 or 4 other crews using theirs at the same time so there is a lot of interference. Yesterday, my team and I went for a walk to the post office and Starbucks (oh yeah!), and we wore the headsets. We looked like undercover spies....so cool. Hopefully the system works for use tomorrow. During the game I will be wearing a huge belt around my waist with a transmitter in the back. I will be wearing the Polar Heartrate belt on my chest, and the beep flag armband on my left arm...can you say RoboCop! I am just getting ready to leave the hotel for the airport, as my game in is Windy Wellington, so I will try to post some pictures later. My game is at 12pm on Thursday and I am not sure if it will be televised in Canada. I believe you can go to the FIFA.com website and they may have some clips of the game. Again, cross your fingers, toes, and anything else for me. Let's show them what the Canadian can do!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Well, I have been here now for 1 week and have gotten myself into a bit of a routine. I have to say, we definately are leading a pretty nice life here in FIFAland. The daily schedule is posted each morning for us on the board. It tells us what to wear and when we need to be where ever it is that we need to be! For those of you who know me, you know that I am a planner, and so this has been an adjustment for me. I will give you a rundown of what my day is basically like.
Each morning I wake up around 7:30am, by a wakeup call from the frontdesk. They will actually offer to call you back in 10mins if you would like a little snooze, sweet! Then I head upstairs for breakfast, along with my bag of laundy. We are allowed to get up to 6 items a day washed(only our adidas stuff) and it is paid for. I have a quick breakfast of cereal, yogurt, toast, and fruit each morning. I am going to have to change this up a bit because 20 days of this is going to be tough! There are always so many options, but I am trying to have something light. Because....next up....training.
We board our bus at 8:45am to head out for training at our own private field. It belongs to a private school and we have sole usage of it for the next 3 weeks. It's pretty neat, the field comes with players too...that we use for our technical portion of training. The training consists for 2 parts: fitness (1 hour) and technical (1 hour). During the fitness component we do a warmup, agility training, tempo runs, abdominals, stretching, and a cool down. Our technical sessions focus on mechanics, decision-making, and movement on the field. There are always a few drivers, etc around to help out at these sessions. They bring water and poweraid for us, as well as umbrellas for the instructors!
We usually get back to the hotel around 11:30am. We shower, at least I know I do, and I will check emails, read my blog comments (which I love by the way!),and sometimes I will have a nap. Lunch is between 12:30 and 2pm and always so many food choices.
In the afternoon we have a meeting. The meetings range from technical topics, to tournament stuff, to filling out match reports, and even video quizzes. Yesterday we were given the appointments for the 1st 8 games, but I will talk about that in the next blog.
After the meeting we will go for a walk, take a nap, email, watch TV...whatever... it's free time. Somewhere in there, my laundry magically appears back in my closet, on brand new hangers! Dinner is between 7:30 -9pm. And then I usually get a massage and I'm off to bed. I know, it's a tough life, but someone has to do it!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The fitness test is done...and over! Thank god! We left the hotel at 8am and headed to the track. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. Not that I doubted that I would pass, but worried about the "what ifs". What if I slipped on one of the sprints, what if I pulled a muscle...etc. You know, all those things that you have no control over...that is what I was worrying about. I just kept telling myself...you can do this, it is the same test you have run 20 times, this one is no different. The bus ride to the track was very quiet, and we were a small group (13), only the referees. The assistants were coming later for their test. Just as we boarded the bus...rain, and I don't mean just rain, but RAIN...sideways, it was crazy! But, by the time we got to the track, it was just a drizzle, and as we finished our warmup, it had stopped. The problem was that now the track was wet, and that made it slippery. So, for the sprints (40m), I made sure that I didn't start too fast so I didn't slip. I just had to make sure that I ran hard the whole way. Get this, ever single one of my sprints were 6.3....all 6 of them, weird, eh? On to the intervals (15om + 50m recovery). I wasn't too worried about these because I have done them so many times that I knew the pace, and last week I ran a practice test and did 15 laps. For the test we were doing only 10 laps, so I knew I could do this. I ran in a group of 4 girls and we worked really well together. We took turns leading and helped each other out when we needed it...it was good. It was such a great feeling to be finished and the best part...all 13 referees passed...awesome!
That evening we had the official referee dinner with members of the FIFA referees committed and the tournament organizers. We all got dressed up in our brand new FIFA suits (freshly tailored), boarded our bus, and went out for dinner. The food was amazing and at the end of the night, we were all presented with our official tournament medals! It was a great day!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday was my 1st full day here. We spent the majority of the day sitting in the classroom going over Tournament Information as well as specifics of the Laws. We had presentations from all of the Referee Instructors/Fitness Personnel and our Mental Preparation Specialist...how cool is that! We had a break for lunch and then, back into the classroom for some more education. We played a game where Sonia threw a ball at us, and asked us a question. Things like....where are we? What other cities are going to be used for the games? What is your job?, etc....my question....How many countries are there in FIFA? Are you kidding me? So I say...209 (I think that's the number of bones in the human body!) and guess what....I was almost right! There are actually 208 (I'm sure that one dropped out recently :) hehehe. In the evening I went for a massage, and then off to bed. I have to say, I am sleeping like a log! It's amazing.
Thursday morning we got up and boarded the bus for training. We spent about 2.5 hours doing a variety of warmup, agility, and technical exercises. It was a fairly light session as we were going to be running the fitness test the next morning. For the technical part, we had a team of boys (~14-15 years old), who came out to basically foul each other over and over again. It was amazing how creative they could be in the different ways they came up with to take each other out and they didn't stop there, they would even start pushing matches afterward to ensure that we continued to deal with the situation even after the fact...impressive! After training we headed back to the hotel for lunch and then our accreditation appointment. Mine didn't go so well. I could not seem to get a picture with my eyes open...hahha...it was so funny (probably not to man who had to keep trying to take my picture), eventually we got one! Afterward we had another meeting to deal strictly with the fitness test. We were told....if you fail, you are going home. Something I already knew, but to hear it again, it definately makes your heart beat a little faster. Merere, one of our fitness instructors, showed us a video of the test so we would know what to expect the next day. We were also told that we would all be using the Polar Heartrate Monitor belt so that they could track our heart and how hard it is working. It's all so high-tech. Speaking of high-tech, I found out today that we are going to be using the communication systems (headsets) when we referee....I am so excited! Now I will have someone to talk to while I am out there...how perfect! But first, before I think about all that....I have a job to do...pass the fitness test. Off to bed to get a good night sleep. Think happy thoughts for me! Cross your fingers and your toes and anything else you can cross!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I have arrived in Auckland, and I have to say...that was the best 15 hour trip I have ever been on. Flying 1st class was such a treat. I got on the plane and sat in my "pod", put my feet up, and opened my very own bottle of water. One of the stewards gave me my over-night bag, complete with toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, revitalizing foot spray and slippers. I started watching "Sex in the City", but fell asleep, and then tried to watch "Baby Mama", but fell asleep again! I must have slept at least 10 of the 15 hours. I woke up, had breakfast, and then it was time to get off the plane in Sydney, Australia.
I had an hour stop-over in Sydney, where I was invited to use the "lounge" where I could get a bite to eat, have a shower, and use the internet. Then I got back on the plane for 3 hours and arrived in Auckland.
As soon as I got off the plane, I was greeted by a tournament representative, and a customs officer, who helped me get my bags, and pass though all the customs/security checks without having to wait....WOW! I felt so important!
When I arrived at the hotel, I received a huge adidas bag of uniforms, etc that I had to quickly try on because the adidas rep was almost closed for the day. Almost everything fit, with the exception of my jerseys (kind of important) which were all a size large (no, I did not order a large), but unfortunately, because I was the last one to arrive, all the smaller sizes were gone. I guess I'll be doing some serious "tucking in" for the next month!
Once I had all my kit, I went for dinner, which was unbelievable - all the food that was there. Then I signed up for a massage, came back up to my room to unpack, and went back down to get my 30 minute massage....so great! I had another good night's sleep and woke up this morning feeling really good. I am hoping that I have avoided any jet lag...knock on wood.
So far, this has been an amazing experience. I am really looking forward to the rest of the tournament. I can hardly wait until the games start!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Here we are....7 days until departure. I'm starting to get really excited, but also feeling a bit overwhelmed. There seems to be so much to do. I can hardly wait for the moment I sit down on the plane, and my adventure begins. Until then, it almost seems surreal.