Celebrating LGBTQ+ groups in the Sported network

By Sported |  17th June 2022

At Sported, we believe that sport should be open and accessible for all, ensuring that everyone can feel the benefits of sport. The Sported network is made up of a diverse range of groups, from those who are at the beginning of their journey to increase their inclusivity, while some are tailored specifically for LGBTQ+ people and their allies, creating a safe space for them to play sport and meet new people.

With 1 in 8 LBGQ+ people (Stonewall) avoiding going to the gym or participating in sports groups because of fear of discrimination and harassment, we caught up with two groups in the Sported network who are working in their local communities to ensure LGBTQ+ people can experience the power of sport and how it can change lives.

Conwy Dragons – Wales
Sported members since 2021

The Conwy Dragons are the only gay inclusive rugby group in North Wales. Despite only running their first session in October 2021 with three people, using word of mouth and social media, they now have 24 members attending weekly sessions, with some travelling from over an hour away.

Group leader Matthew is a keen rugby fan and wanted to form a group for others to be able to play in a comfortable and non-judgmental environment, as well as creating a way to socialize and meet new people in North Wales. Participants have already expressed that they feel comfortable and grateful for the chance to play and enjoy sport with a group of likeminded people.

After recently receiving grants, with the help of the Sported team in Wales, they have been able to buy equipment and pay for pitch hire and more. The group leaders also went through our free Start-Ups service, a programme to help groups who are just starting out on their sport for development journey to have the fundamentals in place.

Things are moving quickly for the Dragons with a recent successful application to join International Gay Rugby, bringing a chance to play in leagues and against other teams, including groups from all over the world. In addition, they have plans to march in local Pride events around North Wales, spreading the word about their sessions.  

Find out more about the Conwy Dragons on twitter.

Plymouth Dolphins – South West
Sported members since March 2022

After experiencing that attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in the South West were lagging behind other parts of the UK, the Plymouth Dolphins were born. The Plymouth Dolphins welcome anyone from any background supporting those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other, as well as their allies to come together to play rugby.

Co-founder Rob explains that he was bullied in school and was never interested in sport. Now at 49 and only picking up a rugby ball for the first time a couple of years ago he explains “I have gained another family, and a whole group of new friends I may have never met. It’s been amazing for my mental health.”

It’s not only Rob who has found the group to be highly beneficial as one participant explains: “If I had known rugby would have this much of a positive impact on my life, I would have done it much sooner!’’

"I started with next to no rugby experience and was incredibly nervous, but over the weeks my confidence has rocketed, and I was right at home with the boys, making some great friends."

After joining the Sported network, they had a Kickstart call with a Sported volunteer to help them identify areas in which they can improve, to ensure they can continue to run their sessions in the future, with more support on the cards.

The Plymouth Dolphins also have big plans for the future. After attending their first local Pride event and engaging their first transgender and non-binary players, they will be running touch rugby and contact sessions this winter so they can play with mixed gender teams, with plans to join the IGR and to get involved with their local network of rugby teams.  Rob refers to the Kings Cross Steelers, the world’s first gay-inclusive rugby union club, as brilliant role models.

Find out more about the Plymouth Dolphins on their website

Groups like the Conwy Dragons and the Plymouth Dolphins, plus many others in the Sported network, ensure that everyone can experience the powerful benefits of sport in a place where they feel comfortable and confident.

In our latest Community Pulse, our members expressed that they felt less comfortable with LGBTQ+ issues. Throughout June and July, we’ve teamed up with Stonewall who are running sessions for our network covering LGBTQ+ identities, allyship, challenging homophobic and transphobic language. We hope these will help increase knowledge and aid in making more groups welcoming and inclusive to all.

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