I was curious, probably like most San Quentin residents who may not follow the sport of soccer (or futbol, in Spanish): What are the game’s rules and what are the ways it might help a person? I got the opportunity to ask those questions of a soccer player who is passionate about the sport. Demetrious Mitchell, 50, is a resident of The Q who didn’t mind filling me in and explaining what he knows of the sport of soccer and how it helped him.
TH: Demetrious, how long have you been a soccer player?
DM: I was introduced to soccer in 1995 when I was at another penitentiary. This Hispanic guy and this Jamaican guy named George taught me the fundamentals of the game. I’ll never forget how they helped me discover my passion for the game and, since then, I fell in love with it. I developed my own style since then and I’ve been playing it ever since.
TH: I have to ask the obvious. You are a Black man at San Quentin playing a sport dominated by Hispanics. How did you adapt to that and have you received any flack for participation in the game since you’ve been in prison?
DM: It’s an international game and many Africans play it. I just so happen to be bilingual and I can communicate with the Hispanics. Those who can’t do that may not understand it. When I was at other prisons. I did receive pushback from other Blacks and some other His-panics. But once I explained to them the situation, they saw that I just love the game and they left me alone. So, I say that we all need to learn each other’s language.
TH: Yeah, I agree. The sport actually originated in England. And I see many Africans playing the game on TV.
DM: I encourage everybody to learn and play it. It’s a good way to get physically fit. It’s fun and it teaches you discipline and integrity and dedication.
TH: What position do you play and who taught you the rules? I have a hard time following the games because I don’t know what they are.
DM: I learned the rules from watching the games on TV. I already knew how to defend and kick the ball downfield. Then I learned my position of striker.