LGBT groups feature in North West development work

Tue 26 Sep 2017

Working with LGBT groups has been a priority for BSUK’s North West development team for a number of years, and BSUK’s partnership with Pride Sports in Manchester has shown the LGBT audience there how inclusive a sport softball is. 

The work began in 2012, when an LGBT mini-league of four teams was created, with games played over three evenings in April, May and June. 

Following this, BSUK has delivered dedicated LGBT youth sessions and hosted LGBT Charity Tournaments in 2015, 2016 and 2017, introducing more and more LGBT players to the sport each year.


Appreciation

Lou Englefield, Director of Pride Sports, has applauded the work that BSUK has done in the LGBT community.

“Representing the smaller UK sports of baseball and softball, BSUK has made big strides on LGBT inclusion,” Lou said.  “This has culminated recently in the establishment of an LGBT Advisory Panel of its own members.  The leadership BSUK has shown in engaging our communities is truly commendable and we look forward to future initiatives.”

In March 2016, the National LGB&T Partnership published a report titled “A Review into National Sports Governing Bodies’ Response to LGB&T Inclusion”, where BaseballSoftballUK was praised for the inclusive nature of our sports and the creation of LGBT participation initiatives in the North West in recent years. 
 

Tournaments​

The LGBT Charity Tournaments have built a fantastic reputation in just three years, attracting teams from as far afield as London and Shropshire as well as local North West teams.  Because of the growing popularity of these tournaments, players have requested that the event include B-grade and C-grade softball teams in 2018 alongside the rookie and beginner teams the tournament has previously focused on and catered for.

The tournament is good for the LGBT community in a couple of ways.  Not only goes it give members of the community chance to play sport in a safe environment, but it also raises money for LGBT charities.  The charity chosen to receive the funds raised in this year’s tournament was the Pride Youth Games+.

Sessions

In April this year, BSUK North West Coach Linni Mitchell worked with the Proud Trust to create bids to access funding from GreaterSport to deliver Sportivate sessions for LGBT youth groups based in Central Manchester.

BSUK coach and LGBT Panel member Lyndsey Bygrave delivered the sessions for LGBT youth aged 11-25.

In July, in partnership with the LGBT Foundation, Lyndsey ran a session as part of its monthly women’s workshops for lesbian and bi women.  These introductory sessions generated a lot of interest and participants have since accessed other sessions.

Lyndsey said, “The people in the group really stepped up to the plate to have a more positive experience with sport and they didn't half do a good job!  The level of improvement from Week 1 to the final session was amazing.  I hope they are inspired to continue playing sport that is gender-inclusive and LGBT-friendly in the future.”

In September 2017 Linni Mitchell was able to introduce softball to a number of LGBT youth groups from across the North West at the annual Pride Youth Games+ event in Ellesmere Port.

Linni said, “I think softball is a great way to get members of the LGBT community active and playing sport.  It’s a perfect sport to try at any age and players don’t tend to have preconceptions of the sport as they may do with traditional sports such as football or rugby.”

Panel

In April 2017, BSUK North West Development Manager Luis Arrevillagas set out to create a nationwide LGBT Advisory Panel made up of members of the softball and LGBT communities.

Members were selected shortly afterwards and since then the LGBT Panel has met once a month to discuss topics such as how softball rules can become more inclusive and what more can be done to engage with the LGBT population.  The Panel is planning to introduce new ‘Inclusive Softball Rules’ for tournaments so that every individual is on a level playing field in the game.

Luis Arrevillas said, “At BSUK we are proud to fly the Pride flag.  All of our softball community is supportive of the LGBT work we do, and everyone gets involved, regardless of their gender or sexuality.  Each time we meet with Lou Englefield we learn more about how we can become more inclusive and open to anyone who wants to get involved with our sports.”

If you want to find out more about the LGBT Panel, contact Luis on: LA@bsuk.com.

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