Monday, 12 March 2018

The problem with teenage boys...

Game 39, 2017-18

When I was a young father people used to look at my daughters and ask me, “Don’t you ever wish you’d had a boy?” I used to reply with a short and truthful “No,” while resisting the urge to tell them to shut the fuck up insulting my children by implying that they’re the wrong sex.

“Well, wait until they’re teenagers,” these fatbergs of wisdom would knowingly fart on. “Then you’ll wish you’d had boys.” It turned out they were wrong again. And having coached and refereed teenage players of both genders, and having once been a teenage boy myself, I can only feel grateful for having avoided living with these fluid-shipping, hormonal wrecking balls masquerading as the Lord of the Big Fucking Cock. 

Pelé and Garrincha - you have to
 be about this good to skip training.
On Friday I tell three players on my U15 team they can’t play at the weekend because they missed both training sessions last week, and didn't take the trouble to let me know why. One immediately texts and says he is sorry, but he’d been injured. The second eventually calls and sort of apologises. The third one writes in the team’s WhatsApp group that we will surely lose because now “shit players” are getting picked ahead of him, the standby Garrincha.

I delete him from the group, suspend him for four weeks from the club, and tell him that he can play again once he’s apologised in person to the entire team. He replies by asking when he can have his player pass back so that he can find a new team. Yeah, good luck with that. Trainers everywhere just love a 14-year-old
who skips training and thinks it doesn’t matter because he’s better than everyone else anyway.

By the time I come to referee a U17 game on Sunday, I’ve had my fill of teenage boys for about the next seven World Cup cycles. I’m ready to pounce. I don’t even bother with a pre-game speech, I’m too busy looking stern. It’s how I feel too. I can sense the furrows on my face. I get like that sometimes when I ref – once when I was being evaluated in the US a few years ago, the assessor told one of my linesmen at half-time, “Tell Ian to actually try and enjoy the game. He looks way too serious.”


Love in the penalty box - Scholes
takes one for the team.
Two players start making out with each other at a corner kick. Not actually making out, I’m just interpreting the homoerotic undertones of their mutual shoving and posturing. They’ve been getting at each other since half-time. I blow to stop the corner kick being taken. “Is there a problem here?” Mr. Big Bollocks with his plastic whistle darkly delivers the rhetorical query meaning, “If there really is a  problem here, we're just getting fucking started.” Hell, yeah. 

It’s effective enough. I’d already talked at half-time to the under-handed home team – 4-0 down – about not getting nasty in the second half. They’d taken two yellow cards just before the break and I could see where things were heading. Whether my lecture makes any difference or not I’ve no idea, but in the second half they play fair. In fact it’s their opponents who pick up two yellows, becoming frustrated that for a for a while they can’t add to their tally, despite totally dominating the game.

Two things happen at the end. The home team, having eventually lost 0-7, gather in a post-game huddle. A few seconds later they break into laughter. And several members of the away team shake my hand and thank me as they leave the pitch (but not the bolshie one I’d booked). Because of course, on the whole, there’s nothing wrong with teenage boys. Just my perception of them.

Though I still don’t regret the fact that I never had to raise one.

Final score: 0-7 (4 x yellow)

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