How to resolve a conflict?

1/28/99 from
By Mohammad Hamzeh

To resolve a conflict you may have different approaches and strategies. There are good ways and there are bad ways. Good ways are those that do not cause embarrassment for people, do not magnify small problems, and do not create any hard feeling.
With this in mind, when I first heard that Hooman was invited to play in one soccer team and his former coach Mr. Kolich who is also the president of the league does not allow him to play. I simply thought there should be something that I don't know! So instead of making a judgment, I decided to talk to Mr. Kolich and find out the reasons.
I made a friendly call and asked him to tell me what I don't know. He explained that Hooman quitted the team two times and He did not show his commitment to the team in the past, and that he needs players who care and are committed to the team.
I personally did not know about this two times quilting! So I thanked and told him that I will talk to Hooman, and if it was necessary I will call him again.
When Hooman came back from the school, I asked him what the story was of his two times quitting the team? And he answered:
"After the first practice I did not like the coach and the team, they were all smaller than me, so I decided not to go. Then Mr. Kolich came to our home and talked to my mom and told me that he will work out with me so that I can continue to play Hockey. That's why I went again. If he wouldn't of come and talked to my mom after I quitted, It would have never become two times. So it is his fault that I quitted two times"
I listened with no judgment and asked him why did you quit the second time? And he answered:
" After the last practice that I played, I told Mr. Kolich that I would be playing Hockey next Sunday and will not be able to attend the soccer game. Then he gave me speech that how traveling programs are more important than recreational programs. Also, the assistance coach told me 'The way I look at it is, if you don't play on Sunday, you sit in the next game'., but I didn't ask him for permission, I just informed him."
What happened next?
"When I went for the next practice, nobody was there, my mom and I waited about 30 minutes and then came home. My mom called Mr. Kolich to find out that the practice is canceled and they called every player but me. My mom got mad and considered it a negligence or disrespect and told Mr. Kolich that I no longer was allowed to play in your team."
Now that's me and a problem to solve. I thought, now that another coach has invited Hooman to play, so he should be able to play. After all, all these programs are for children. But the challenge is doing it in a way not to disrespect or cause hard feeling for Mr. Kolich or any body else.
So, I decided to talk to Mr. Klunk, the superintendent of the recreation department. I met him and explained the situation and my plan in resolving the problem without causing hard feelings. I asked him to talk to Mr. Kolich and use his supervisory power and with reasons such as not having any legal support for such decision convince Mr. Kolich to let Hooman to play. I also told him that it is better to resolve the problem at this level and not having any other meetings. I also explained that if they don't reconsider this decision now, in every step, it will become larger and larger and more people will be disappointed.
After my meeting with Mr. Klunk I had hoped that this is the end and soon he will call me and tell me that Hooman can play and everybody will be happy. But it didn't happen exactly this way. He called and asked for another meeting with himself and Mr. Kolich! I accepted hoping that with some sort of compromise we would reach to an agreement.
We had the meeting, we repeated the same words and I also learned that there are no written or published or approved rules and regulations for recreation the department and they make decisions on case basis. At the end if the meeting I explained my intention to publicize the problem and take legal action if necessary. And I left the meeting earlier to give a chance for the two gentlemen to make a wise decision.
The next day I asked Mr. Klunk about their final decision, and He answered "No change".
That's where I decided to write my first letter to recreation the department and ask them for a written response. It is now more than 20 days that I have not received any response to my letter and my questions. While speaking with other Rutherford residents I came along others who have had similar problems and nobody listened to them and finally they gave up.
This is now a habit for Rutherford recreation department.
I have asked questions such as how someone is elected as the president of the league?
Why the recreation department does not have any approved rules an regulations?
Who supervising the activities and decisions of Recreation department?
Who decides if a player is disqualified and why don't they inform the player and his family until player starts to play in another team?
Since this discussion became public and recreation department realized that their decision does not have any legal support they allowed Hooman to play (following the meeting with councilwoman Bernadette McPherson and City Attorney Michael Donovan), but both councilwoman and borough attorney supported Kolich by letting him decide which team Hooman can play. So Kolich that knew Hooman will not play in his team, gave Hooman only chance to play in his team.
This decision means keeping a child away from a team that he likes, and away from coaches that he likes and originally invited him, and forcing him to play with a coach that initially did not allow him to play. Who will be satisfied with such decision?
Why don't they value the opinion of a child and his parents and coaches of the other team?
I would like to say that this is a sample of the type of unfair decisions that sometimes adds up and creates violent people and hurts the society.
Mr. Kolich with his background in police force and his current job as a detective should well know that Rutherford people do not wish to have unsafe schools and regretful incidents in their town and do not want to have a coach that abuses his administrative connections and plants the seeds of hate in children. No body will benefit from such policies and such decisions.
How harmful could it be letting Hooman to play in Mr. DePinto's team? Obviously none! otherwise Mr. DePinto and Mr. Finelli who both know Hooman for a long time wouldn't ask him to play!
I will continue to invite all the people with administrative power in the borough of Rutherford and other cities to be more careful in their decisions and think about harmful consequences that may result from such decisions.
Thanks to all Rutherford residents who promote friendship and justice and have kept our town as safe as it is today.

Mohammad Hamzeh

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