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Refs and the AJVC

Posted by devo on July 12, 2009

An interesting look at the refs at the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships can be found over at South Australian VBlog

Now you either played at, coached at, or know someone who played or coached at, the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships.

So wide is the player base, that you will hear a hundred and one tales from the championships, some you love, some you hate, and some you didn’t want to hear. But one that I have never been told, is that of the officials of the event.

50 Responses to “Refs and the AJVC”

  1. Robbo said

    Am i right in thinking there was a Yellow Card given on match point in the U19 Mens Gold medal game?

  2. mickmurphy said

    There was… after an illegal attack 13-23 down. (Note – edited at the request of mickmurphy -devo)

  3. a Queenslander said

    that’s correct

  4. luke hill said

    Just to get things clear..
    I as captain of the U19 mens Victorian Blue team received that yellow card..
    And i can tell you now, as someone who has always played fairly and respected the referees and players, i did not use any offensive language.
    The ball was on top of the net and our middle player went to hit the ball as they’re back court setter attempted to get it off the net…Our middle was called for reaching.
    I then went over to the refs stand and said what was that call? and he explained it was for reaching..
    and i replied with.. the ball was on top of the net though, so it’s anyones ball and walked back to position.. the ref then blew his whistle and called me to the ref stand where i received a yellow card..his explanation for my yellow card was “You wouldn’t stop talking”.
    I have played volleyball with alot of the other Queensland players we were versing.. and they even asked me.. what did you get that for? you did nothing wrong.
    Anyone who knows me or has been associated with me in any way, shape or form would know, i would not have sworn at the referee or said anything offensive.

    Luke Hill

  5. mickmurphy said

    Luke did uphold the values of the game in every game I saw him in and his team mates were a great bunch of lads, always keen for a chat when I saw them around the stadium. It is a shame the final couple of points panned out they way they did after such a successful tournament for that team.

  6. luke hill said

    Thanks Mick,
    I don’t want me or my team to have a bad reputation because it means alot to us that we are well looked upon..
    Was a shame it ended that way, and i will never forget it, but you can’t turn the clock back now. Was a good week anyway.

    • Robbo said

      good on you Luke for coming straight out and facing it. I know a lot of people speak of you very highly. Yeah an unfortunate way to end the week, but i’m sure you all enjoyed and it well done on winning silver.

    • devo said

      I have had the privilege of coaching a Luke Hill captained team. His on-court integrity is beyond reproach. A “gentleman” of the game.

  7. mickmurphy said

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on the events of the week? I am keen to know what people thought about the officials…

  8. Troy M said

    like the players and the coaches, the officials make mistakes too, its just a part of the game. I found most of them did a good job and let the game play itself, although some of the duty teams left a lot to be desired and it was disappointing to see the blasé attitude of some teams (people doing lines in bare feet, no shirts, not even paying attention to foot faults on serve). I think there were a few times when the referees should have called in the duty team linespeople to give them a dressing down.

    One thing that seemed to catch some of us out was that libero’s were not allowed to be changed between sets this year. Shane Clouston said an email was sent out to all states stating this, although the VIC and NSW people seemed unaware… not sure of the other states.

  9. Volleyball Athlete said

    The referees during the week were a mixture of things. It is a pleasure to be refereed by some, as they are nice, confident referees who are willing to explain a call. If there’s anything players hate, it’s asking a referee for an interpretation of a call and then having the referee say ‘I make the decisions’ and then telling you to go away.

    • mickmurphy said

      Being confident and personable are definitely things that I as a player have appreciated in a referee. A quick whistle and a definite signal make you know you can ask the question because you’re going to get an accurate, concise answer.

  10. Kris said

    Its good mick that you have shown another side of Juniors that we don’t normally see. I can tell you that I refereed in Melbourne last year and after that experience I will never referee at Juniors ever again.

    I work for industrial relations and what happens to the referees, the workload and the hours that they work is not acceptable in any work environment, paid or unpaid.

    I read in your blog that you are reluctant to say more, maybe because of the polictics. And I think you have understated the pressure that any new referee feels going into juniors.

    I agree about your statement about the protocols, etc. and as a new coach I made sure my team knew what to do…it works and there is less conflict or distration with the referees. You’re right, its the way it should be and it is normally done with little impact or being so obivious in european competitions becuase its part of the game. I can see that now after having been exposed to it as a referee.

    And after all this discussion about the referees this year, we will forget what was said or seen at this years Juniors, and turn around and make some other people go and do it all again next year. it doesn’t change!

    John Gibbs the general manager of VQ, said in the closing ceremony that the referees averaged 5 duties per day. That statement is so close to the truth you can’t imagine it! Five duties out of eight time slots. And this with more than the full quota of referees for the tournament???!!@!

    We don’t work that hard for any employer!(and these referees are akin to volunteers!)
    No wonder people walk away from refereeing in our sport…they’re abused and taken advantage of.

    I found it easier to be a coach this year, and I will always stay a coach from now on. I will never referee in an enviroment like that again!

    And as a small side comment to Luke above…you and the other commentators above are right about how you normally conduct yourself on court, but I was watching that game and you deserved that card. You were very emotive and the manner in which you approached the referee warranted the card. If the referee thought or knew you were swearing then you should have received a red card, so getting a yellow was good given that a red would have meant a 2 games suspension.

  11. Steve said

    Kris, that last papragraph is a bit of a cop out. I wasn’t there but from what I can gather from the above there was an emotional response made by a player to a referee decision that led to a match point situation.

    A good referee gives latitude in that situation. No way, for example, does a 50 metre penalty get given to someone after the siren in the AFL grand final if the scores are tied unless the player literally belts the umpire. The worst thing an umpire can do is enable the perception to be built that they “decided the game”. Given the score it is probable Victoria would have lost anyway, but given the facts as described above the game should have been allowed to play out that way.

    Regarding referee workloads, no question referees are overworked at events like this if you perceive the event to be one where you are volunteering. However let’s be honest about why most referees are there. Firstly it is (correctly) seen as recognition of the referee’s ability that they are asked to attend. Not quite the same a representing their state, but about as close as you can get as a referee. Secondly, referees get an opportunity to be graded at these events and to increase their rating. Working at events like this are crucial for referees who want to reach international refereeing standards for example. For those people events like this are like training leading up to an event. You don’t hear players (serious ones anayway) complain about the hours they spent preparing for a tournament.

    In short, your comments above may reflect your personal experience Kris, but they are one point of view only. It would be a shame if younger referees see AJVC as the pinnacle of refereeing and go there expecting to be paid, when in reality it should be seen as a stepping stone to other opportunities.

    • Kris said

      Sorry Steve,
      Didn’t realise I was pushing for referees to be paid…far from it! What I was talking about was the conditions in which these people work/referee (as volunteers). I have checked out the Australian Sports Commision website for advice on this issue and there is a document designed for management and working conditions of coaches and referees that are either volunteers or part-time volunteers. All australian referees fall into the category of volunteers. Personally I got upgraded to National A last year, I met some great people refereeing last year but I still will not go back and referee under those conditions again. I would sooner coach and referee my state league.

      As for the last paragraph, last year we were told when refereeing that we should allow players and coaches to express their natural disappointment, etc. when point doesn’t go the right way for their team, but not to condone unsportsmanlike behaviour.
      Was that message repeated this year, Mickmurphy??

      Its like the U21s Queensland vs NSW match ended in a flurry of yellow cards, for Scott newcombe and the U21 captain, are you saying Steve that they weren’t warranted? And that was after the match point!

      As for the players, you’re right and this discussion takes nothing away from their personal dedication and committment. But lets remember the string of this conversation is focused on the AJVC referees.

      Was it a good bunch of referees this year??
      They were OK. I was surprised to see a couple of internationals refing the U17s for 1 or 2 days of the week. Gave my boys confidence in the refs for that game.
      Also they didn’t go funny through the middle of the week with ball handling calls, that is suddenly tightening it up (as if they were instructed to do. This has happened in the past.

      In U17s its expected to have inconsisent refs and decisions coming from way out in left field. As Coaches we can only try and prepare our players for it, but given their age/maturity that is more difficult than it sounds. This year was no different to other years, but less so.

      AJVC is not the pinnacle for the referees who attend, AVL is! AJVC is where they attend to learn to be National referees, not just good state A referees. And for some, they want to go further…they do see it as a stepping stone but it is the only place where you can be upgraded to a National referee.

      Last year I took unpaid leave and went to AJVC to learn. I learned alot! But being there from 7.30 in the morning until 11or 12 at night showed me that the days are very long, this plus the increasing lack of sleep as the week drags on and then looking for something to eat on the way home after midnight every night is not conducive to a learning environment that I would put myself through again.

      I would suggest people do it but go in with your eyes wide open.
      I think every coach should either try for one year or see if they could sit in on the debriefs.

      I’ll never bag another referee again.

      • Murph said

        Was that message repeated this year, Mickmurphy??
        >>>It was by some, it wasn’t by others…That is one of my concerns with the process, potentially game changing moments, such as carding a person for their behavior was not clearly presented, and different views were given by each of my senior referees, something that has been shared by other newbies at the AJVC.

        Its like the U21s Queensland vs NSW match ended in a flurry of yellow cards, for Scott newcombe and the U21 captain, are you saying Steve that they weren’t warranted? And that was after the match point!
        >>>Should have seen the look on Scott and the ref’s face when they saw eachother out on the town on Saturday night!!!!

        Was it a good bunch of referees this year??
        They were OK. I was surprised to see a couple of internationals refing the U17s for 1 or 2 days of the week. Gave my boys confidence in the refs for that game.
        >>>They reffed the U17s to allow state dudes like me the chance to take the higher pressure U19 and U21 matches. Alternatively, they were paired with newbies to allow the newbies to develop their skills with international refs.

        Also they didn’t go funny through the middle of the week with ball handling calls, that is suddenly tightening it up (as if they were instructed to do. This has happened in the past.
        >>>Ball handling was given a ‘call it as you see it’ this year…So each ref maintained their level, no matter how accurate that was. The good part, we maintained consistency, the bad part, we didn’t really develop our ideas either. Safe to say, ball handling errors will be called less and less in favor of extended rallies.

        In U17s its expected to have inconsisent refs and decisions coming from way out in left field. As Coaches we can only try and prepare our players for it, but given their age/maturity that is more difficult than it sounds. This year was no different to other years, but less so.
        >>>Glad to hear it was less so this year…Every one worked very hard to perform well.

        AJVC is not the pinnacle for the referees who attend, AVL is! AJVC is where they attend to learn to be National referees, not just good state A referees. And for some, they want to go further…they do see it as a stepping stone but it is the only place where you can be upgraded to a National referee.
        >>>True-ish…You are either at AJVC because you are developmental candidate, or an exceptional referee. But you need to go through the process to be an AVL referee.

        I would suggest people do it but go in with your eyes wide open.
        >>>Part of the reason I shared my views…

        I think every coach should either try for one year or see if they could sit in on the debriefs.
        >>>Totally agree…Coaches should give it a go…I did because I was critical of refs and it helped give me perspective…

        I’ll never bag another referee again.
        >>>I will…But I’m a bad bloke…As I’m sure a number of people will agree!!!

  12. Emily stock said

    Unfortunately we were unable to attend the AJVC in Brisbane to see our son, John Stock (Vic U/21) play. Does anyone know if and who were the official photographers of the event as we would love some photos?
    Emily Stock

  13. edbinnie said

    First of all, Mick, Kris, good on you for giving it a go – so many are happy to criticize without being prepared to try.
    A few quick things I wanted to point out though. You may not have thought it hard to referee the games, hence not stuffing up etc. Bear in mind not all referees will come from an elite (ie nat juniors coach, avl player or coach etc) volleyball background. I went to AJVC as a ref in 2005 and 2007 (and coach in 2006), and in amongst everything that goes along, you find out about the other refs. Some have never coached, and only played at the level where front middle sets. So to go from that to tracking a 6-2 or 5-1 rotation is a hard slog. Obviously by the stage that they get to AJVC they should and do know it. That doesn’t mean its second nature. Its also not second nature for players – ask a player on a state U19s team to draw out the serve receive formations for a 5-1; not all of them can do it. For that matter, plenty of coaches can’t either – they have to stop and think about it too.
    Again, as a coach, many elements of reffing become second nature – when you call time outs, what substitution patterns teams are using, and just “knowing” what is going to happen next in the play so that you are in a good spot to see it. Good coaches can do that with ease. Many can’t. Its the same with the refs. That’s not to say that you can’t learn to do it, just that through playing and coaching, some referees have it a little easier than those refs that haven’t come through that path.

    I’d also agree wholeheartedly with the pressure a new ref can feel going into the tournament. Coaches start out as assistants etc. There is no easy intro for a new ref – you just have to get in there and do your 25+ games. That’s more than most referees will be able to do in a state league season!

    There is no doubt that the refs have a tough workload – 5 games a day might be the average, but I recall having to do a couple of 6.5 game days. I recall one of my delegates saying that if they think you can handle it, and they need someone to do it, then its a long week.

    The other points that you may not have raised is the sense of comradery that referees get at these tournaments. As a player, you are all about the team. As a coach, you mingle a little with other coaches, but its more about your own state. The referees on the other hand have a great opportunity to meet some fun crazy people. You are constantly working with different people that you may not know (its unusual for a first and second ref to come from the same state, and the ref delegate may come from a third state). Going as a coach can be somewhat isolating, going as a referee tends not to be. You may be shocked to find out that no matter how much a coach yells at the ref, the ref is more than ready to go have a chat while queuing up for food, or say hello in passing. That’s when you know that the ref really understands the emotion of the moment. I wonder how many players/coaches also understand the emotion of the moment.

    • Murph said

      Very true…

      I guess my point with “its not that hard” is that, with the right preparation, you can do the job well. You don’t go to the Nationals as a coach or player without training, research, clinics, etc etc. And so, you shouldn’t as a referee. I went there with my own training and it helped and made the whole thing totally workable.

      The sense of mateship with the refs is something that I will touch on when I finish writing that blog. I left it open ended because I have some massive positives and some slight negatives to add on those matters, but, without talking to individuals/the group/the delegates, I have chosen not to share the rest at the moment.

      I think you hit the nail on the head with your last comment. The refs are trying their best and cop a hatful of abuse at times, what if you said the things you say to refs to your players…Or the players to their coach…Or the parents to the coach of their kids team…

      I’m sure it has happened, and what a stir it would have caused. But when it happens to the refs, the answer would be “oh but they made a mistake” or “oh but they don’t know the rule”…Next time your libero sets from inside the attack line, say the same things you would to them as you would to a ref who calls your setter for a catch (its called a catch you know…not a carry or a lift!!) that you don’t agree with and see what happens!

      • edbinnie said

        aside from the negatives of players and coaches speaking to the referees, I was actually trying to point out that the vast majority of referees leave the game on the court.
        They tend to be quite a friendly group, pretty much no matter what happened in the game (especially the next day!).

        Whilst a lot of people worry about the words said to refs, so long as the ref knows its about the game, most tend not to worry about it. I mean, a hockey goal keeper doesn’t take offense at people belting them with a hard ball as much as they can! So for a lot of inexperienced refs, once you learn that there will always be a few comments, and that its nothing personal, it can be a fair bit more fun up on the stand. still … you don’t want to have an absolute Barry Crocker!

        • mickmurphy said

          Oh I knew where you were coming from…I kinda went off on my own tangent in my reply though!

  14. edbinnie said

    Anyone know won the Jeff Kostas Award?

    • Murph said

      Jodie from WA/NZ…

      Fully deserved too, she had a great week! Unfortunately she had to leave early and so didn’t collect her award.

      • Volleyball Athlete said

        Yes she was a very good referee. I had her a few times, and she always had a smile on her face on and off the court. She explained her calls when asked by the captains and remained consistent throughout. She was truly deserving!

        • J said

          In my opinion i thought the best ref was that tall victorian guy that did the 19’s bronze game. my team had him 2 or 3 times during the week and he was very consistent and always looked in complete control of the game. he even had the guts to replay match point for the WA side after they won the bronze on a wrong call! lucky WA won the next point, otherwise there would have been quite the riot!

          • mickmurphy said

            It should be noted, that the person you refer to is a Nation AA, while the person who won was a State ref…

            At the end of the day, the best ‘pound for pound’ ref, was certainly the winner in the end.

  15. Coach said

    Agree with a lot of this stuff. Refereeing is difficult to get right. Its easier if you know the game more. Cards are hard to judge. etc. As well as that:

    Coaches have a duty of care for a team of minors for a week – don’t compare that to officiating 5 games a day.

    Coaches spent up to 6 months of their own time in preparation for the one week of national champs – don’t compare that to officiating 5 games a day.

    Coaches have the responsibility for providing a great experience to inspire the next generation of volleyball lifers to continue to develop the sport – don’t compare that to officiating 5 games a day.

    Not judging, not criticising performances, not belittling officiating – just don’t compare it with coaching.

    • Murph said

      Apples and Oranges…I’ve done both and they are not comparable. I will say that as a ref, at the end of the day, it was nice not to worry about who/what your athletes were doing. Similarly, it was nice as a coach not to have to be at the stadium all day every day and constantly be criticised. But…They are not comparable, and shouldn’t be.

      That said Coach…Be very, very careful about what it appears you are implying with your comment…Yes, it says ‘I’m not judging’ etc, but it really does appear that you are as you have taken a very one-dimensional look at the work of a referee…A lot of your points are actually moot as referees do have the same responsibilities but in different capacities.

  16. Steve said

    All participants in the event are equally critical to its success, players, admin, referees and coaches. Each will also experience the event differently based on the role they are playing. Let’s not get into who has the hardest gig, each group do their best to perform at their best during the week under less than perfect conditions.

    Would players perform better if they didn’t have duty on top of games? Probably.

    Would referess perform better if they had fewer games to officiate in? Probably.

    Would coaches coach better if they had a team manager to look after the little things for them? Oh wait, most of them do, so what is their excuse?? Kidding, but you get the point. The tournament isn’t played under Olympic conditions, all participants make sacrifices for the betterment of the tournament, and no one groups sacrifice should be considered greater than anothers. Hence why I find it tiresome when referees complain… and also when I read comments like those from Coach above.

    • draco said

      Tiresome is the word, especially when the discussion is led down the path of “us (players/coaches) versus them (referees)”. It’s not productive.
      Ed raises good points that most of the refs do leave the stuff behind on court.

      As for the comparison to the Olympics…pointless comment as this is a national tournament and each federation in the world has its own way of running national events. If we ran it like an olpymic tournament or a world league tournament, the AJVC would not have the freedom to allow liberos per set or match. If you think the officials are anal at AJVC go along to one of those events.

      Remember these are referees learning to be national referees, not FIVB referees.

      Side note to Murph…Jodie is from WA.

      • mickmurphy said

        Personal joke to Jodie to say she’s from NZ…

      • Steve said

        “As for the comparison to the Olympics…pointless comment as this is a national tournament and each federation in the world has its own way of running national events. If we ran it like an olpymic tournament or a world league tournament, the AJVC would not have the freedom to allow liberos per set or match. If you think the officials are anal at AJVC go along to one of those events.”

        I think you totally missed my point, but that is fine. I am sure most understood where I was coming from.

        • Volleyball Athlete said

          I thought the AJVC was trying to be run as much like an FIVB competition as possible. Well that is what someone told me. That was why there was some much emphasis on procedural things et cetera.

          • Steve said

            That was always the aim when I was involved, but (a lack of) cash prevents the organisers from being able to pull it off completely … hence the need for players to do duty, referees having big workloads requested of them etc. In all elements under our control though, such as protocols the aim was always to follow international standards as best as possible.

      • Troy M said

        AJVC didn’t allow liberos per set.

      • Coach said

        The discussion was not lead down the path of coach v referee. The suggestion was made that the contributions made by coaches and referees are so different that any sort of ‘grouping’ is completely inappropriate.

        Regarding the comment that all participants are equally critical, I don’t believe that’s the case. Have you ever seen a bunch of coaches, just coaches, get together and coach for fun. Have you ever seen a bunch of administators hang out and administer? Have you ever seen a group of players just get together and play?

        • Steve said

          The event shouldn’t be and isn’t intended to be a “turn up and have a hit” week. If it was then of course the players are the only participants that matter. To suggest that the AJVC could run successfully without the input of all groups is a specious argument.

        • edbinnie said

          Hi Coach,
          Have you ever seen a bunch of coaches, just coaches, get together and coach for fun. Have you ever seen a bunch of administators hang out and administer? Have you ever seen a group of players just get together and play?

          I’m not sure what your point is here, but am I correct in assuming that its to say Juniors is about the players and only the players?
          Is that even its sole purpose any more?
          Its a learning experience across the board. Referees are trying to improve, and get an upgrade. Assistant coaches are learning their way to become better coaches. Some Head coaches use it as a learning experience to try and get into national team scenarios.
          Some players are just trying to get selected. Others are trying to get on court. Others to get noticed by national selectors.
          AJVC has very much become a proving ground for 3 of the 4 key groups in volleyball, and I personally think that that is a fantastic outcome from the one tournament.

          And do you see coaches, administrators, refs or players get together as a group just for fun?
          It happens all the time. I fit into all 4 groups, and I have regularly asked a couple of refs to the pub to talk about how they handle things, likewise for coaches. Any time I get a chance, I’d talk to other club directors, especially in other states to see what they were doing, what problems they were facing, and how they go ahead. And as a player, I own every different volleyball under the sun, have an outdoor court, and during the quiet times of the volleyball calendar get bunches of mates to come have a hit. Yeah, I guess that makes me a die hard, but there are so many out there that its almost hard not to find one!

  17. Ezra said

    In response to Luke’s comment on saying:

    “anyone who knows me or has been associated with me in any way, shape or form would know, i would not have sworn at the referee or said anything offensive.

    Luke Hill”

    The referee in charge said that he told you twice he didn’t want to give you a yellow card, the chat went for about 60-90 seconds, Luke walked away and then back chatted the ref and was subsequently penalised with a yellow card.

    I don’t know Luke, but he was given the option of walking away and leaving it, and he didn’t.

  18. Batesy said

    Well, despite all the criticism that seems to be going on here, I’m actually looking forward to going to Perth next year!

    • mickmurphy said

      You should look forward to it…If you are going as a coach, a referee or a player, you’ll have a fantastic time and learn so very much about junior volleyball!

      I might not have given the best review of my position, but I have a very positive outlook on life as a referee and at the AJVC.

  19. Volleyball Athlete said

    I wasn’t quite sure where to write this, but I was wondering if anyone knew the dates of the Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Championships? I know it is in Adelaide but haven’t heard any dates yet.
    Has anyone heard any information about it?

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