On Saturday 16th December, two LGBT football teams will compete in a men’s FA-affiliated football league for the first time ever.
Middlesex FA club, London Titans FC and Stonewall FC Reserves are set to meet in the Middlesex County Combination League in a match that is about more than just the three points.
Both clubs pride themselves on being recognised as LGBT clubs, offering an environment for anyone to come and play football regardless of sexuality, age, race, religion or ability. This Saturday sees the two clubs meet at Stonewall FC’s Barn Elms Playing Fields (Barnes) for the first time in affiliated league football, with London Titans having only moved to FA-affiliated Saturday football this season.
With both clubs, the Middlesex County League and The Middlesex FA active in their work to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender representation in football is widened, the match-up represents a chance to demonstrate the progress that has been made in making football a game for all.
(photo credit: Terry Connolly)
London Titans’ manager, Phil Steer (pictured), said:
“This is a monumental match for football. Whilst Titans’ healthy rivalry with Stonewall has flourished through numerous LUL and GFSN fixtures, as well as national and international tournaments, we share the same goal: to make football accessible for all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. Never before have we competed against each other in FA-affiliated football, so this is sure to be a game not to miss.”
Ben Biggs, Stonewall FC Chairman added:
“In the year in which we mark fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, legalisation of gay marriage in Germany and Australia, and the first openly gay Taoiseach in Ireland, another step forward for the LGBT community will be made this weekend.
When the history of gay football is written Saturday's match between Stonewall FC Reserves and Titans FC will feature as the first game between two LGBT football clubs within the mainstream FA-affiliated umbrella.
Much progress has been made in the twenty-six years since Stonewall FC were established as the only LGBT club in the UK. But we must remember that there is much progress still to be made. Stonewall thanks all in its family and wider community whose contribution over the years has led to this point.”
Although recent LGBT awareness events such as the Rainbow Laces week have helped to both bring all members of the football community together and raise awareness of some of the problems facing sport, both The FA and Middlesex FA realise that there is still much work to do break down the barriers facing LGBT players and truly make the game inclusive for all – something both are working tirelessly to achieve.
Middlesex FA Chief Executive, Leigh O’Connor commented:
"Whilst we have made some fantastic strides in recent years to ensure football in Middlesex is a game for all, we realise there’s still lots of work to do. The LGBT community is a vital part of football in the County and so it’s important that we continue to work to kick homophobia out of the game and promote inclusion and diversity. This work starts at grassroots level, so we’re incredibly proud of clubs like Stonewall and London Titans that are leading the charge and promoting the message of equality to those on the field. This is a historic moment for LGBT football and one which we hope will encourage more players, regardless of their sexual orientation, to get involved in the game."
The match between Stonewall FC Reserves and London Titans can be witnessed, free of charge, this Saturday at Stonewall FC’s Barn Elms Playing Fields in Barnes. Kick-off is at 1pm.