This is the safer soccer subgroup of the regular Washington, DC Pick-up Soccer group. This subgroup is used to communicate about the safer soccer foam ball games. All members subscribed to organizer messages will receive a weekly email from an organizer (usually Jason Taylor) about safer soccer. However, anyone is welcome to view the past three of seven years of emails archived here.
All games in this subgroup use a special full-sized very soft foam ball. We play in Silver Spring, Maryland, north of the beltway by about 5 minutes. No soccer experience is required, but do not join if you are injured.
COST: It is free provided you RSVP and reveal your true first and last name to everyone. Why do we care? Because it makes the game safer. Players know who the other players are. There is always a natural desire to play nice, but our games are competitive so there is also an opposite desire to win. The fact that people know who you are gives rougher players an extra incentive to look before kicking or heading. This is something we want all players to do. Everyone will know the names of anyone playing recklessly, kicking without looking, or otherwise injuring people. Also, players who get red cards, injure people, or kick the ball to people's heads can be banned. (There is no point in banning someone if they are using an alias or we don't know who exactly we are banning.) Soccer is wonderful, but it is even more wonderful if everyone takes time to have situation awareness and does not worry as much about clearing the ball a split second faster.
To play for free you must: (1) upload a picture so we can call you by your name instead of by "yellow shoes," (2) use your real first and last names, (3) rsvp for any games you might want to attend, (4) also rsvp at http://meetup.com/dcsoccer (where the safer soccer games are again listed among traditional games), and (5) be worthy of being passed to the entire game.
Players who don't have time to mess with the above or who want to buy anonymity must donate $20/year for men, and $10/year for women. This comes to 38 or 16 cents per game. Hit the "chip in" button at meetup.com/dcsoccer .
It is harder to dribble in hot weather. Also, it doesn't feel the same as a 5. If you are an older soccer player, it takes a game to get used to. (We once played against a very good soccer team. We beat them partly because they were not used to our foam ball. ) So, why do we use this ball? One reason is to prevent pain, but a more important reason is because of a link between non-concussive heading and growth of a protein called tau. Tau probably strengthens brain tissue, which is good, and probably why this occurs, but in doing so there is probably a permanent loss of mental ability. If you'd like to know more about this, you can read here:
More here. If you say "OK, good to know. No problem, I just won't head," realize that your reaction time is ~215 ms but it takes only ~60 ms for a ball to hit you. So all soccer players get hit in the head by the ball occasionally. For reasons we can't discuss here, be skeptical of what you read about this topic. (Heck, be skeptical of everything!) But for similar reasons, you are either for our group, or you are against our group (and, by default, for the majority/status quo). If you don't care at all about head injuries in the sports you play, there are about 300 cheaper soccer games in the DC area that you are more welcome to play at.
We use an injury-based foul system. The ref does not care if you were going for the ball. If you injure anyone for any reason? Direct kick or in severe cases it is yellow card and a 1/2 point to the other team. Do it a few times and expect a red card and a ban. This way it is to your advantage to look first. So light pushing of other players is not a foul here. Ironically, we like that because it reduces injury. (It gives tactile indication of where you are to someone who might not see you. Knowing where nearby players are increases safety. Hands are always allowed to protect yourself from anything here.)
We ref throw ins, corner kicks, kick offs, fouls, yellow cards, etc. We do not allow any player to use their hands for strategic purposes (like a goalie), but all other handballs are legal. The reason is because we allow players to protect their face if the ball if kicked towards their head, but the reaction time will be high if the player is required to make any complex decisions, like predicting if their hands might be deemed a handball by the ref. Our foul system is largely injury based. If nobody got hurt, it is usually not a foul. Acting out a minor touch by falling to the ground and doing several somersaults is allowed only if the performance is entertaining. "Intense fouls", even if "unintentional", especially those "face kicks" resulting in a player's head getting a non-soft hit by anything award 1/2 point to the innocent team, even if it was a same-team foul. Note that this yields counter-intuitive play: the fouling ("guilty") team kicks off on the kickoff line after such a foul because the "innocent" team just scored. If you spot a call, like an out of bounds or a foul, calling it also helps the group, and makes it easier for the ref so long as you wait for her to back your initial call. Lastly, regular soccer players tend to just are about the ball. In safer soccer, we play for fun and each play is important, but never more important than the health of the players. Therefore, each player is required to be aware of the people around. For example, heading the ball without being concerned about nearby players in the direction your hear is rapidly moving will probably result in a red or yellow card, even if nobody was actually hit.
Next point wins: to make the game fun all the way to the end, if one team is “senior” by 2 or more points when there are 10 minutes left, the “next point wins” rule may begin in which:
If someone scores, their team wins.
If nobody scores, the senior team wins.
If you are on the senior team you may wish to play keep away to run out the clock. The captain of the senior team can contest “next point wins” by trying to pick two coin tosses in a row correctly. If they get both correct (25% chance), the game is played out normally.
P.S. I respond to all communications made using meetup.com within 48 hours, including applications; if you messaged me for any reason and I didn't respond, I didn't actually get your meetup.com message.