It's not easy. That's probably why I love it.
It's a mental and physical challenge. It is a release, but also a black hole that absorbs all of my entire being when I am on the pitch. It is my hobby, my sport, my life.
It requires 100% concentration and commitment to do it well. But, even when you give 100%, you still make mistakes. The more you know, you find that there is still so much more to know and learn to be a great referee. There are never ending combination of scenarios, angles, players, emotions, reactions that make every single game different and challenging.
I find the challenging moments the most gratifying when I grow the most personally. It requires self-awareness and introspection, but also the ability to leave on the field and move on to the next play or the next day (which admittedly can be hard to do).
I live a fortunate life in a safe and beautiful community. I know that the toughest things I deal with on the pitch pale in comparison to billions of people around the world living in third world countries or under tyrannical rule. I have it good.
The physical demands have become some the difficult to over come. Each year, I struggle with one issue after another. As I near 50, make the same type of runs or working multiple games a days, becomes significantly harder. Yesterday, I worked with a phenomenal ref who was wearing what I thought was a communications system in his pocket. It turns out, that is his insulin pump! If he can get on this pitch week after week, I will make it happen too.
Lastly, I sincerely enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and all corners of the world. I have definitely worked with people from 6 out of our 7 continents (Someone from Antarctica would be cool...pun intended). I have even met other ref's who are Judges, Pilots even a few CEO's!
I think I find it hard, because I care so much. I want the teams, coaches and players to leave the pitch feel that the game was decided by their actions and abilities, not the poor performance of the referee. It's their game to win or lose. I just want lose myself in the beautiful game and be the best referee I can be. It is a never ending journey.