SINCE they changed the Law at kick-off, so that the ball can be kicked in any direction, players have only had one way in their minds to kick it – backwards.

However, Reading FC Women’s international forward, Fara Williams, had different ideas in their recent match at Arsenal Ladies.

When the teams had taken up their positions in their own halves after Arsenal had equalised an earlier Reading goal, Fara did not just kick the ball forward at kick-off, but hit it straight and with such force that it sailed over the Arsenal keeper and into the net for an incredible goal. The Arsenal players looked on open-mouthed.

The same thing happened to me in a university game a few years ago and I wonder if the Arsenal players asked their referee the same question I received from the university students, ‘Is that a goal ref?’ The answer, of course, is yes and Fara had scored what turned out to be the winner.

The Law allows a goal to be scored direct from kick-off – but only against the opposing team. So if a player taking the kick-off plays it backwards too hard, the goalkeeper misses it and the ball finishes in the net, it is not a goal. The game would be restarted with a corner kick.

This is also the case for a goal kick. You might think it unlikely at a goal kick, but I was mentoring a new referee, when the wind was so strong it blew the ball back into the penalty area after a goal kick. The goalkeeper promptly caught it.

The new referee, thought for a minute and then correctly gave an indirect free kick for playing the ball again before it had touched another player. Had the goalkeeper left it and the ball had bounced into his goal it would have been a corner kick.

This is also true for a corner kick, but that is most unlikely to happen. However, much more possible, is for it to happen at a free kick.

It is easy to imagine a player passing the ball back to his goalkeeper who is not prepared as the ball rolls into the net. Even if it was a direct free kick, it would not be goal but a corner instead.

The way I get trainees to remember this obscure Law is: a team cannot self-destruct from free kicks.