Report from July 2nd EFLI exhibition game

Thursday, June 21, 2012
I mentioned in my last post that I learned about the July 2nd exhibition game from an email. It was from Clyde Summers, an American who's lived in Australia for some time and is involved in officiating football there. He ended up assisting with the officiating of this game. 

He's kindly written up a report on his experience which follows. By the way, if anybody from EFLI is reading this he would like to get a hold of you to discuss some things. Drop me drop my a line via the "contact me" button at the top of the rightmost column and I'll pass on his email address.
 I arrived at Hyderabad on Saturday afternoon late via a flight from Mumbai (I was in Mumbai to get dental work done) and went straight to the stadium. There were only a few security personnel there so I left and located a room for the night. I returned around 6:30pm and found the coaches. I introduced myself and told them I was a game official from the US and living in Australia and they were very happy to see me there. I was asked what position I had officiated and I have been a referee so I could manage the game. The only other 'officials' were the coaches and 2 local team 'managers' who served as combination ball boys and sideline judges. I had no time to train them or the chain crew and managed to at least give them all a briefing for on-field safey/procedures. I was given a white hat, EFLI shirt, flag made of crepe paper (had to find my own rock :) ) and a whistle. So I was the appointed referee managing the game. We ran 15 minute quarters continuous clock (which is what we run in Australia for our Under 18s) and very liberal enforcement of minor infractions with the idea of letting them get as much play experience as possible.

One of the coaches served as a modified back judge when his team was on defense and another coach roamed the sidelines and assisted during the game. I had my hands full trying to watch for my position and try and keep an eye out for down-field calls. I did not know what rules we were using...I decided to use NCAA rules to make it easier for penalty enforcement. The fans would not know anyway. There were relatively few calls made the entire game actually. One false start call which is pretty incredible considering the teams playing time.

The teams seem to be aggressive on out of bounds situation and wanted to hit the runner after he went out of bounds. I warned the teams twice and penalized them from that point on. They learned quickly after that. They also had a tenancy to pile on after the whistle so I gave the teams a warning or two and then penalize them afterward. All up we might have had 7-8 penalties one was an off-setting penalty. So they got a lot of playing time.

From what I could find out from the coaches the League did not give much support to this game. It appears that the teams organized this game for the most part: organized the free tickets given out in the lead up to the game, made heaps of posters that were posted all over the city, did some radio promo work from what one person said and for the most part it was well attended. I estimate around 4000 spectators but it was hard to tell as people were scattered all over the place.

The players were extremely excited and enthusiastic about playing and were keen to learn. The coaching staff for both teams were also receptive of my input both during and after the game. I tried to explain the calls to the players and coaches but the atmosphere was hectic and there was not much time.

Overall, I think the event was well organized especially in light of the fact that the league did not have much input (not sure why). I surmised that the teams wanted to put on this game and they just made it happen. Good on them.