The unusually harsh thunderstorms that we’ve experienced in the last weeks have caused us all to refresh our safety policies. Seattle United has ensured that all coaches are briefed and prepared, and we wanted to share that guidance with our families as well.
First, in game situations, by rule, the referee is responsible for making the call to suspend play. The Seattle Soccer Referee Association (SSRA) has also just updated their refs on this responsibility. Their basic guidance revolves around the 30-30 rule. If you can see lightning, and count less than 30 seconds before the corresponding thunder, play should be suspended, and play is minimally suspended for 30 minutes. If thunder is heard, but lightning is not seen, that can also be the cue to suspend. Obviously, with games stacked back to back on weekends, suspension may mean that the game is called.
At Seattle United, we empower our coaches to act to ensure the safety of our players. There is no question that this needs to be the highest priority. At practices, PDA’s, and other club activities, the coaching staff can suspend activity if there is any risk to our players’ safety – including weather. In games, again for any safety concern, if the Referee is not suspending play, but the coach has safety concerns, they are expected to prompt the referee to act. If this is not enough, we have guided them to confer with the opposing coach, and if in agreement, approach the referee together. If our coach remains concerned, and cannot get the support of the other coach and referee, they are empowered to pull our players off the field and seek safety. In rare situations, this could result in a forfeit – we all need to understand this and embrace our coaching staff’s judgment in protection of the safety of our players and families.
Hopefully, sharing this information will bring back the amazing weather we’ve enjoyed this summer in Seattle and last weekend will mark our only difficult weather of the season. Go sun, and Go Seattle United!