Selected as match officials for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, U.S. Soccer FIFA Referee Jair Marrufo and his fellow crew members, U.S. Soccer FIFA Assistant Referees Frank Anderson and Corey Rockwell, are documenting their journey through India.
Learn more about the crew’s journey to India, what it’s like to be a referee at the world’s top youth national team tournament.
Greetings from Kolkata, India! Jair, Frank, and Corey made it safe after quite a long journey. We took separate flights, but as one example, Corey left Phoenix at midnight on 9/27. After three airplanes, four airports, and 36 hours of travel, he arrived in Kolkata. The time difference is around 12 hours from our homes, making it a scheduling challenge to call back at times. The jet lag has just about gone away and we have all gotten on a normal sleeping schedule.
Our first week here is now complete and so far, it has been all business for us. The only parts of India we have seen are the airport, the hotel, the soccer field where we train, and the streets between the hotel and the soccer field. Our daily routine to eat breakfast at 7:30 a.m., depart for field training at 8:30 a.m., return at noon for lunch, then head off to the classroom for video testing and technical instruction. This pre-tournament seminar is helping to get us mentally and physically prepared for the important games. As six-time FIFA Best Referee of the Year recipient Pierluigi Collina told us, “To these players, it is their World Cup and we as referees have to stay hungry to perform our best.”
Included are some pictures of the three of us together in the classroom and on the training pitch. Our first training day was met with torrential rain and mud but that did not stop us. As you can see in the picture, it was quite a muddy day for us on day one. Also pictured, you will see some of our female colleagues, as this will be the first time a FIFA Men’s Tournament has used females as referees. Finally, our field training used local players from India to simulate offside situations, penalty kick situations, red card offenses, etc., so we could work on our positioning, fitness, communication, and other techniques. The three of us got a picture with the local players, along with some of the other referees here from all around the world.
Now as we enter Week 2, the games will start and the three of us will watch every game we can together. Assignments will also be made for the first round of games. While we do not know yet what game we will be assigned to, we will continue to be both mentally and physically ready and we will “stay hungry” when our names are called to represent the United States and make everyone proud on the field here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017!