What a great time to reflect on what Cardiff Dragons FC does for the LGBT community whilst the media is full of Stonewall’s and PaddyPower’s Rainbow Laces campaign to kick homophobia out of sport. If you haven’t come across it already, both organisations are prompting footballers this weekend (and beyond) to wear rainbow laces in support of tackling homophobia in all levels of the game.
Brave move. For one, its brave to even consider any campaign that approaches the realms of men’s football with its reputation for taking such a traditional, blinkered approach to anything new, let alone anything that attempts to tackle discrimination. Secondly, brave to use the strap line “Right Behind Gay Footballers” (#RBGF). The jokey innuendo didn’t go unnoticed by our players last Sunday when it started to hit the media headlines as we were being battered by the wind and rain in a fixture against Bristol. On the whole though, it was met with a few laughs.
Since then, its been astounding to watch this campaign gather momentum and reach the likes of Gary Lineker (who will be wearing rainbow laces on Match of the Day) and also for several high profile male and female professional players to openly show their support by agreeing to wear the laces at the weekend.
Wow. A huge well done Stonewall and PaddyPower! With one small item of clothing, they’ve captured the nation’s attention and broken into the Premier League with what seems to be very little effort. Okay, so the strap line maybe could have been a little different but this is a major step in the right direction to get people talking about the issues that some of us face on a regular basis when it comes to homophobia, not just in sport, but in every day life too. No, its not going to be an instant win, but its already opened several high profile doors and I’m sure that this is just the beginning. Massive applause.
Now, lets not forget that the likes of the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) have been #RBGF for many, many years and without the tireless efforts of their volunteers, there wouldn’t be a league dedicated to gay footballers who can play in a safe and welcoming environment. Then there are the established and growing network of gay / LGBT football clubs across the UK that play in the GFSN leagues – those clubs, including ourselves have been #RBGF for many years and area also run by a dedicated team of volunteers who give up countless hours of their time to provide opportunities for the gay community to play football without fear of homophobia. Massive applause to you guys too.
On the back of the #RBGF campaign, its great to see the GFSN being inundated with messages of support and requests for information. Onwards and upwards.
In an ideal society, we wouldn’t need a GFSN league; we’d all feel happy and safe playing in the many affiliated leagues within our home nation league structures. Until that day comes (probably not in my lifetime), we, like many other clubs provide opportunities for all to play, regardless of sexuality.
For Cardiff Dragons FC, its not all about sexuality. Yes, a predominant proportion of our membership is made up of gay men, but they also play alongside straight men, and bisexual men, and gay women, and straight women, and bisexual women. Sexuality is not an issue.
As for gender, that’s even less of an issue for us. Men and women play 5-a-side and 11-a-side football together and are permitted to do so in the GFSN Leagues and tournaments. Its all about ability, not gender, sexuality or any of the other equality strands for that matter. Bottom line is, we don’t discriminate, never have, never will, and I truly believe that our current membership stats shows that we’re probably the most equitable football club in Wales. We’ll be wearing our rainbow laces on Sunday with pride.
#RBGF since 2005 and many more years to come.
Proud to be a Dragon.