This story pertains to how the sports arena owned by Canlan Ice Sports, The Highlander, has been governing their indoor soccer program ever since they installed the field a few years ago. Last night in the men’s division a player had to be taken off the field, bleeding from the head, to be taken to the hospital. Injuries do happen and the facility itself can hardly be blamed for single incident that they could not predict. Only they could predict it. The management of the Highlander had every indication that one of the teams playing last night, FC United, had no respect for the game or the safety of the other players. They knew this because two weeks ago, the same team that injured the player last night instigated a brawl that ended with a player being stretchered off the field after being sucker punched.
The incident was one of the most shameful displays of sportsmanship, or lack thereof, that I’ve ever witnessed. Losing the game by a goal with only a few seconds left, a player from FC United started a fight that ultimately led to the benches emptying. I personally saw the FC player run across the field and punch a player, who was not threatening anyone, in the face so hard he lay on the field for 20 minutes bleeding from the head. Eventually paramedics arrived with a gurney to carry him off the field. So despite having only second-hand accounts of the incident from last night, I feel comfortable saying it was likely no accident that FC United put another opponent in the hospital. After the original incident I spoke to John Sinclair, at that point the convener for the league, who said FC would be kicked out. I suggested to him that I would be happy to put in a replacement team so the division could continue to run smoothly and that none of my players would show the lack of respect that FC did. He agreed to the idea but after a few days passed with no word I called the Field Sports Coordinator, Nicole Hill, who told me the issue was still being handled. That night I saw John again who assured me it was only a matter of the team being processed properly and that they would be removed from the league. Its a sure sign of a problem when the convener is not even aware what teams are playing in his league. A week later I called back and was told John “no longer worked there” and FC would be allowed to continue playing. Two weeks later, FC’s first game back, and another player in the hospital.
The problem with the Highlander is that their management does not care about the players, plain and simple. The management themselves are not players and so they don’t care if the conditions on the field degenerate because it does not affect them personally. They know their business will continue to be profitable so long as they fill their schedule every Winter and profit is what they care about. I’ve personally had enough of it. In my opinion the Highlander has always done a poor job of treating their soccer players fairly and an even worse job of cultivating any sort of respect for the game at their field. This latest burst of violence is the final straw. Until the Highlander takes steps to prove they are trying to fix the problem rather than just maintain “business as usual” I STRONGLY discourage anyone from entering a team their for their upcoming Winter season. Simply removing this one team is not only too delayed to be significant but inadequate as a solution. They need to re-evaluate everything from the referees, the policies and rules, to the Hockey mentality they foster on the field. The University of Manitoba has a great new field and while they may not be as centrally located or have a bar above the field, I’ve heard much better things regarding the quality of play and respect among players there. I’ve never been one to believe in boycotts but in this case I don’t see any other way to send a message. Lets show the Highlander that if all they care about is our entry fees, we will play somewhere else.