Accidents happen in soccer like any sport, but is there anything we can do about “dirty plays” and keep everyone safer on the field?
The message of PS2G has always been about love through Soccer. Soccer is a contact sport though, and naturally being an intense competitive game things can get heated very quickly, so we are faced with this great challenge to share the field, share the love of the game together while facing off and playing against each other. How can this be accomplished when we have dozens of bodies running and kicking after the same ball trying to defeat each other?
I’ve experienced this violent danger in the sport first hand when I was just in middle school, breaking my leg in a brutal collision as I and an opposing player swung at a ball in the open field. I went spinning in the air and landed with the most agonizing pain. This was an accident, but I would later learn that there is violence in the sport that is brought on by aggression and anger.
Very recently one of our Game Leaders, Dorian, a very fun and friendly player suffered a horrific leg and ankle injury while playing a non-PS2G league game. He was struck and his ankle was shattered by a careless player. Dorian expressed it simply: "It was an attack, not an accident." The player here is like the bullet of a gun though, spurred by an aggressive team that was blasting, hurting players with reckless kicks and cursing at each other for mistakes. The referee at this match unfortunately did not do their part to cool down the players either, even while the goalkeeper was yelling and cursing at his team building up the uncomfortably hostile atmosphere. This is part of the culture problem in soccer today, where it is acceptable to be this aggressive in pursuit of victory and the effects of this hostility are allowed to escalate.
Here it ended with our friend Dorian in an ambulance, with a shattered ankle, broken leg and surgery a month later to heal with pins and metal plates in his leg. That’s just the physical damage, but there is a tremendous trauma and financial injury from this as well with a minimum of 3 months to recover. Restoring trust in other players, referees and game organizers may take much longer. Dorian admitted if it wasn't for being part of PS2G he might not even think of playing again.
This is the impact of careless aggression on the field. So what can we do to prevent this?
Being part of PS2G and witnessing how the attitude and atmosphere before and during a game can really make a difference in the players and gameplay has shown me that even though we can’t avoid all true accidents and injuries in soccer, we can at least help prevent those caused by over-aggression and careless competition.
It’s what PS2G tries to do before every game when the game leader starts with a speech to share our mission, and remind all of our players that we are here together, as friends, without aggression. We encourage safe play and forbid dangerous moves like slide tackling. We don’t allow cleats either, but the most important thing we do and what I have found most effective is simply encouraging love and generous play, where we cheer each other on and clap even when the other team scores with a nice goal. The difference is incredible when we start thinking of ourselves as a community loving the same game rather than an individual trying to win something for ourselves or a frustrated team trying avoid a defeat. We are here to support each other, not beat each other.
A conversation with PS2G Game Leader Dorian Hurodry:
How Did you find out about PS2G and get started as a Game Leader?:
I was playing 3-4 pickup games a week in Chelsea until the Sandy Storm hit and then all the fields got ruined. I was sort of stuck, so I started looking for more fields and meetups online. I found this group, PlaySoccer2Give.
I decided to go and just started playing and enjoyed it. I was playing about a month when I saw the option to join as a game leader. Interested I gave it a shot. When I joined, I had so much energy that it helped PS2G host more games during the week.
What makes soccer so special for you?
It takes you out of the routine. Some of us are lucky enough to interact with a lot of people, but there are tons of people that are stuck in a room, 8 hrs in a desk or with family or no friends that they click with. Soccer sometimes makes Monday feel like a Friday. I know I have such a good time waiting for me after work. I’m just so excited to play.
This is the first time you've been injured like this. What do you think of the danger in the sport now?
It’s easier to recover from an accident but it’s tough from aggression. You know like I’ve been hit, been in accidents, playing someone that steps wrong, maybe someone is pushing too much. Things that happen. Most of the time there's always a hand waiting for you there ready to pick you up from the ground, and say "I’m sorry I didn’t mean that."
But in aggression they are using the ball as an excuse to take the anger on you. That’s why it still makes me angry after 2 months. Because It was an attack. It was not an accident. It was an attack. Someone saw me and said forget it, I’m going to stop you, I’m going to show my team how it’s done. All he needs is a blade in his foot. That was the kind of approach he was taking. With anger. So my question is, why the hate? What is the need of hate? I’m your rival not your enemy. Hitting me like that is not going to make you a better player.
Is there anything you think we can do to make it more safe and avoid this kind of accident? Was there anything you could have done in that game to prevent this?
I think our team should have just stopped playing the game. We should have demanded either they calm down or we should have just not played. Because they weren’t playing, they were just hurting people. It was very intense. Too much words, too much screaming. Some of my friends were already getting kicked. There are some players that have that bad attitude so they make it uncomfortable.
I personally used to scream and curse to myself a lot. When I would make mistakes I would be so pissed I would say some words and scream at myself. That’s something that I stopped doing thanks to PS2G. I remember Danny would approach me, he'd put his hand on my shoulder and tell me “hey calm down Doiran, are you okay?” I didn’t realize that I was doing this and making people uncomfortable until then. Now I don’t do that anymore, not even in tournaments.
PS2G will be hosting a tournament June 13 in NYC to raise funds for Dorian's recovery. Please join us or donate to support Dorian at the following link: