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Being sports’ judge, jury and executioner

A floorball referee shares the pressures of officiating important games.

Muhammad Iqbal
Muhammad Iqbal

Published: 16 November 2015, 12:00 AM

Lee Hong Sheng Marcus is a floorball referee responsible for officiating some of the first division matches in Singapore. The 26-year-old has been a floorball referee since 2010, and is also the coach for Pei Hwa and Hillgrove Secondary School.

Youth.SG met up with the easy-going individual who is currently studying facilities and events management in Singapore Institute of Management. He shared some of the pressures of presiding over a team sport like floorball.

 

Marcus plays floorball competitvely too.
Photo credit: Marcus’s Facebook page

 

“Floorball is a fast-paced sport and things can get very physical when the stakes are high or when things get heated up,” he said.

Quarrels are a norm in any sport and it is the job of a referee to be on top of the situation. In fact, turning into a muscular green hulking beast (not literally) in certain moments is necessary.

“At times, players and coaches will scream into my face incessantly when I make a foul call against them. It takes things like that for me to raise my voice and warn them that I will show them the red card,” Marcus said.

He once officiated a match where one of the team’s coaches went into the court and punched a player. Although surprised, Marcus promptly gave the coach a red card and showed him out of the hall.

 

Marcus making sure that he does not miss any important calls.

 

Marcus confessed that it is always disheartening to have players, coaches and spectators spew vulgarities at him. Yet, he keeps reminding himself to have the “call it when you see it” attitude, because he does not want the protests to influence his decisions.

He said: “I have to make sure that the calls I make are impartial. If I make controversial calls, the spotlight will be on me instead of the players.”

If a bad call was made, he would discuss it with another referee and revert his call, whilst apologising, in the spirit of fairness. He insisted that there is nothing personal about his calls.

 

Having two referees helps in “on and off the ball” situations.

 

He was advised by the head of referee in Singapore, who is also his best friend, to move on after a bad call or a bad game.

He said: “I think I speak for referees from any sport. The losing team will always scold you. You are like the scapegoat.”

At times, his passion for the sport slowly diminishes from all the mistreatment that leaves him questioning his knowledge of the game. Thankfully, there are people in the sport standing behind him in full support, and that is what keeps him going.

 

Words of encouragement from friends.
Photo credit: Marcus’ Facebook page

 

After years of officiating locally and regionally, the pressures of being a referee are less of a problem for him now. Marcus aspires to be an international referee as he feels that can allow him to contribute to the growth of the sport more than just playing for clubs.

His greatest worry at present is in the future crop of referees.

Floorball was introduced back in 1995 and it has become one of the fasting growing sport in Singapore. For it to maintain its foothold in our shores, Marcus believes the men who stand to officiate it should be of high standards too.

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