Supported by Sported:
Cardiff Dragons FC, a mixed gender LGBTI+ Football Club welcoming players of all abilities, make a difference in their community in South Wales through the power of sport.
“I’ve played football before and it hasn’t felt like a good space for me,” Ceri declares. “It hasn’t felt like a safe accepting space.”
Enter Cardiff Dragons.
The first LGBT football club in Wales, it was established in 2008 to fill that void, offering a welcoming environment to many players who had gone elsewhere and found themselves pushed to the touchlines rather than playing to their strengths.
“Many of those founder members, and indeed our hundreds of members over the years, felt excluded from mainstream football teams due to the toxic homophobic culture within the game,” says Ryan, one of the community football club’s leaders.
“We have countless stories of members who quit their football teams when they came out as they felt they were unable to be open about their sexuality, or members, like myself, who never joined football teams in the first place due to fear of homophobia.”
Founded by a group of men who were part of the Gay Football Supporters Network, Sported’s Wales team offered advice and insight which helped achieve a successful funding applications from Sport Wales and the Be Active Wales Fund application.
Since then, Sported’s regular funding bulletin has helped them to identify other avenues to support their work to increase participation of the LGBT community in football and educate others in how to make their clubs more inclusive.
Dragons has grown with a cluster of dedicated volunteers and sponsors, setting up a Sunday League team in 2015 to compete in ‘mainstream’ competitions to establishing a women’s team that features in the Bristol Women’s Casual Football league.
“While there is a general view that the women’s game is more accepting of LGBTQ+ players, often young women coming to terms with their sexuality are put off playing sports due to fears of name-calling,” Ryan adds.
“Additionally, women playing sports often face homophobic abuse from fans regardless of their sexuality. We are proud that we offer high quality coaching to our members, and we have a broad range of abilities in our membership, from Welsh Premier standard right down to complete beginners.”
It brings people back into sport, turning inactives into active participants.
“I’ve played football since I was little and I was told I wasn’t allowed to play any more,” Ceri recounts. “So I quit playing football which was the saddest thing. I didn’t play again for about 20 years.”
Then the Dragons called. “Everyone welcomed me with open arms. It was a wonderful experience.”
Sported offers advice and resources on how to make grassroots sports organisations more inclusive to all, as well as ensuring their operations are sustainable.
“Cardiff Dragons are always looking to evolve, improve and support more people in their community, said Polly Crook of Sported Wales team. “So I always make sure I stay in close contact to make sure I can help them achieve their goals.
“It’s brilliant to be able to share information with all of our groups on things like funding, help with funding applications or training opportunities or whatever it is they are needing some guidance on.
“We understand the vital role that Cardiff Dragons take in opening doors and growing inclusion and we want to find the right resources to help them grow.”