Iber Cup – Tom Mitchell

Tom Mitchell, Cat 5 EDRA Referee

Sunday : All ref gear packed and quiet drive to Aberdeen airport for Flight to Esbjerg, Denmark. Iber Cup hosts provide accommodation and full board meals for the week. 80 minute flight was smooth and quick. On arrival at the Football Club I was welcomed in and offered lunch – very nice. Weather is also warm and grass playing surfaces look very good.

Monday : Met Ben and Kevin, Referees from England and Belgium. We will work as a team of three. Iber Cup organisers Jesus and Andre held the referee briefing for Tournament Regulations and Appointments for Tues.

Tues: First set of games went well. Brilliant warm/sunny weather. Over 200 teams at this tournament. I refereed teams from Poland, Portugal, Norway, Denmark and England. Aberdeen u15 representing Scotland. Opening ceremony in the Blue Water Arena.

Wed : Long day refereeing. Covered 28km and used 5500 Calories. Very high standard of football from all pro-youth teams. No dissent from coaches – this is football at its best. Bus transportation takes us between the two large venues. Pitches are in great condition.

Thurs : Playoff and knockout stages. Ben, Kevin, Remco (Dutch referee) and I rotate Referee and Asst Referee duties during the morning and late afternoon sessions. We have a mid afternoon sleep break to recover the legs.

Friday: Finals of the small sided games and semi-finals of the 11-aside. I have been appointed to the Final of the small sided Bristol vs Football Academy Poland. Before the final I am Referee and AR for 3×11-aside games throughout the day including Liverpool and Lisbon.

Saturday: Just the one game today but it is an important one. I am part of the referee team appointed to the Reading vs Tokyo final. Kevin is in the middle, Remco is AR1, I am AR2 and Ben is 4th Official. An early handball from Tokyo results in a penalty and its 1-0 to Reading. Late in the first half a brilliant timed run by Tokyo striker and he is able to slot the ball beyond the keeper. Reading take the lead 10 mins in to the 2nd half only for the Tokyo team to hit a cracker from outside the penalty area into the top corner. Penalties and I am at the corner of the goal area. The penalties are taken brilliantly until the Reading no.6 unexpectedly puts the ball over the bar and Tokyo win. Referees are presented with one of the Iber Cup Match Balls used in the tournament as a token of their gratitude and thanks.

In the afternoon we watch the Liverpool vs Aberdeen game (with Liverpool taking the honours) and then it’s off to the old town of Ebsjerg for some sightseeing and a meal to finish off the week. Cycling around town was a nice way to loosen off the legs after a great tournament week. – Tom