I have an interest in this story for two reasons: firstly, I was born in Belfast, N. Ireland and secondly, I love soccer or ‘football/footie” as they call it in Ireland and Europe. There is a third reason, I am a lesbian and I have coached the sport.
The team started as a suggestion made on the internet for a casual kick-about for lesbians in east Belfast. There were many reasons for meeting: lesbian solidarity, love of the sport and general fitness. At first, they were a motley crew with ages ranging from 18 to 50 and varying levels of skill. In time, they became the United Kingdom’s first lesbian football team, and a very successful one at that!
It took them only a year of friendlies and charity matches against other women’s teams, but each game gave them confidence and honed their skills. What was a pleasant and welcome surprise was that they never encountered taunts or jeers from the spectators.
They named themselves the Belfast Braves and their manifesto was not to discriminate against any woman based on her creed, colour or existing disability. Indeed, three members of their team are deaf and the team communicates via a combination of lip reading and sign language. Straight women can join, but they have to have a gay-positive mentality. The club is extended family; many of its members have been married and its great when their families come out and cheer them on.
So, I’m keeping my eye on the internet to see if “MY HOME TEAM” is ripping up the field and putting balls in the opponents’ nets. Go Belfast Braves, go….I’m proud of you all. Let me know how the team is doing.