The Paradox of a Community Service.
In one of those days as a community Soccer referee, two incidences happened to me in one game. The two occurrences happened, and they were from the same team. It was the under-10 boys’ team. In another article, I narrated how my last boy then was playing in the under-10 categories.
On this particular day, he was not on either of the teams playing.
Let us say team A had the upper hand over team B.
Some rough plays were ensured, and team B, who were three goals down, was looking for a penalty by all means.
A boy of about eight years old approached me, and the following conversation happened.
Boy: That was a penalty
Ref: No, it is not.
Boy: Yes, it is.
Ref: I am the referee
Boy: You suck!
Ref: Thank you
Boy: You are welcome
The boy walked away, and the match continued.
After the game, we all observed the traditional handshakes. The boy shook my hand and did a thump up for me. I was slightly surprised.
Two boys from the same team ran to me, saying, “good job, Ref.” and high-fived me. They were in the same team with the boy that said I sucked.
On our way going home, my boys asked what happened.
I narrated the story, and they wondered why I did not discipline the boy. I also remember Lasigidi for sure! Ko le sele l’Eko ile rara! (Such can never happen in Lagos city).
There were reasons for my action.
Usually, when a team is losing, the opposing coach asks his boys to stop scoring. Two reasons for that. The team members are young, and they can quickly become demoralized. It was for fun and not necessarily competitive. Also, it is regarded as a mark of respect for the weak team.
The boy was already frustrated and somehow ‘hopeless’ his team was losing. He thought he could play a fast one on the referee.
Of course, I conversed with the two assistant referees, parents from both teams, and they confirmed it was not a penalty.
I could have given him a yellow card or outright red for assaulting a referee. However, understanding the psychology of the boy, I refrained myself.
For the boy to thumped up me later meant he realized his error, or perhaps he was playing pranks. That is not unusual for an eight-year boy.
However, how can I suck yet receive a thump up from the same person?
Life is full of paradoxes, and community soccer refereeing shares in that paradox.