WHAT IS BULLYING
Bullying is a repeated, intentional behavior meant to cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to another individual.
Below is a guide specifically for you as a young soccer player to help you understand, recognize, and tackle bullying. This guide is imagined to be part of the Mental Health Toolkit for Young Soccer Players by the Philadelphia Union Foundation and PCOM
What is bullying.
What does bullying look like.
Why do some teens bully.
Signs you're a bully.
Bullying on the field can look different from bullying in other environments.
Things to do if you see bullying.
Questions to ask yourself before reporting.
We hope you find this toolkit helpful in understanding and managing these mental health issues that could affect you as a soccer player.
Note: Always consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating health problem or disease; anyone seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed professional.
Defeating the Bully: Don't Let Them Score on you
Hey there! You know the vibes of a regular soccer training day: everyone's pumped, laced up, and ready for some action. But, imagine this:
Your buddy Dylan, who's usually the first one doing drills and taking shots, is hanging back. Every time Dylan tries joining a group, there's some weird laughter or the chat suddenly goes silent.
You've heard some whispers:
"Man, did you see the group chat last night? Some peeps were seriously ripping into Dylan."
"They were roasting Dylan for that one slip-up in our last match all over Instagram."
"It seems like Dylan is getting left out of some of our hangouts off the field too."
During practice games, you notice Dylan hesitating a lot. Not because they can't play, but something seems off. Whenever they make a small mistake, a few players roll their eyes or make those 'joking-not-really-joking' comments. The whole "we got your back" team vibe? It feels off around Dylan.
Those weird silences, the laugh-behind-the-back thing, and the not-so-funny jokes? Bruh, that's bullying.
And seeing a teammate who usually loves the game suddenly feeling out of place and less confident? That's the ugly side of bullying showing its face.
Whether you're a player, captain, or just someone noticing these things, speak up. Soccer is all about teamwork, respect, and lifting each other up. Everyone should feel like they're a key player, both on and off the field. Let's keep the game awesome by making sure everyone feels they're in the starting lineup of life!
WHAT DOES BULLYING LOOK LIKE?
Bullying isn't just pushing someone around; it can be mean jokes, spreading rumors, or even hurtful messages online. Think of it like a player who fouls all the time but never gets a red card—it's not fair, and it can mess up the game for everyone.
Bullying is an aggressive behavior characterized by:
Imbalance of Power: The individual perpetrating the bullying, known as the bully, often uses their power—whether it's physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to harm or intimidate those who are weaker or less powerful.
Intent to Cause Harm: The behavior is deliberate, not accidental.
Repetition: Bullying behaviors generally happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Signs You Might Be Facing a Bully
Mean Comments or Actions: Are they making fun of you, pushing you around, or making you feel small?
Exclusion: Are you being left out on purpose, whether it's during practice or in group chats?
Online Harassment: Are you receiving mean messages or seeing harmful posts about you?
How to Take Control of the Game
Speak Up: Just like calling for a pass, you have to let someone know what's happening. Talk to your parents, coach, or a trusted adult.
Avoid Retaliation: Tempting as it might be to slide tackle them (figuratively, of course), don't fight back in the same way.
Block and Report: If it's happening online, use that block button and report any abusive behavior.
When to Bring in a Referee
If you've tried to handle it yourself but the bullying continues, it might be time to involve someone with the authority to give that bully a red card—like a coach, a school official or other adults you trust.
Remember: Teammates Stick Together
You're not alone; your teammates, coaches, and family are there to back you up. Let's create an environment where everyone can enjoy the beautiful game.
Bullying doesn't belong on or off the field. Use these tips to defend yourself and help others who might be experiencing the same. Together, we can make soccer—and life—a better game for everyone!