A club player who lost six teeth in an horrific injury playing a top-of-the-table clash in the Midlands Premier Division has been forced to start a fundraising page after facing a dental bill of up to £10,000.
Playing for Stourport HC, Simon Claris’ injury occurred during a clash against Khalsa Leamington. During a corner, Claris was on the line and with one of Khalsa’s ex-Pakistan internationals flicking, he was struck straight in the mouth. Stourport were 3-2 up at the time (the eventual final score) after they missed the resulting penalty flick.
He told The Hockey Paper: “The pain was unimaginable to start with, spreading all through my head before it concentrated on my mouth area. When I was able to open my eyes and realise where I had been hit, I was streaming with blood from my bottom lip which was split open and the gums where the teeth had been completely shattered.”
With a large crowd in attendance, Claris’ best friend took him to hospital. “My parents were there but my Dad is the manager so I told him to stay with the team to ensure we won the game and my Mum would’ve fainted as soon as she saw me!” said Claris.
“I was taken to the closest hospital to start with before being told that I need to go to a larger hospital where they have a specialist facial department. I was seen initially as my lips had started to swell and the pain was immense all over my mouth.
“I then saw the specialist who informed me that I had completely shattered and sheared my teeth at the gum line. The initial feeling when she told me that I would be losing at least five teeth was one of dread (of course mixed with pain). I wasn’t sure what to think about how I would look and the longer lasting damage.”
After fragmented pieces of teeth were removed and his gum and lip stitched back together, he was allowed to leave. He has spent the last fortnight seeing different dentists to weigh up his options, by having facial scans and the nerves removed from the bottom teeth as they were dead.
Stourport has club insurance to help but the cost of the procedures required will be more than it can claim for, hence Claris’ decision to set up a GoFundMe “to try and fill the gap”. So far he has raised close to £2,000, with dental quotes ranging from £6-10,000.
He said of the process: “The main work that will need to be completed is on the top half of my teeth as they will need to completely clear this out and I will be fitted with a denture plate initially – which will then become implants in the top teeth when the gums are finally settled.”
“I don’t know if I will be able to return to the pitch competitively this season, as much as I want to,” he added.
“Hockey is a massive part of my life, being a release from work where I am a project manager at a multinational IT company. I was able to return to work however, with the amount of virtual meetings we have now, it has been tricky.”
Claris has been playing for nearly 20 years after starting as a five-year-old. He moved back to Stourport last season, having played at Beeston and then Repton while at university. He spent the winter period guesting for Repton in the Premier Division Indoor and has represented England at junior level.
On the issue of safety in hockey, Claris is aware of the obvious dangers given the current speed of the game in the modern era, but like most amateur players invested in the game on a weekly basis has to adapt with the current laws in place.
“Safety in hockey is a tough balance to gauge due to it being such a fast-paced sport and players don’t want to have bulky protective equipment,” he added.
“Funnily enough, I am a drag flicker so I understand the danger of standing on the post for short corners. I chose not to wear a mask as I believe that they impair my vision and I want to give myself every opportunity to pick the ball on the line.
“I was of course wearing a gum shield but it could not do much to prevent the velocity of the ball that was flicked. I think I am seeing more injuries in hockey due to the ever growing pace of the game but unfortunately, in my opinion, that is something that players have to adapt to.”
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