Rainbow Rovers beat ex-Premier League All-Stars at Pride match
The LGBT-inclusive Rainbow Rovers beat an ex-Premier League All-Star team 4-2 at the ‘Football United’ charity match for Pride last Sunday. The mixed-gender football match was hosted by Whitehawk FC at their TerraPura Ground as a celebration of inclusivity in the sport.
The Rainbow Rovers team was comprised of LGBTQ+ sportspeople, activists and celebrities, including players from Stonewall FC, the UK’s first gay football team. The Premier League All-Stars included ex-Tottenham star Paul Walsh and ex-Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie, and was managed by former Brighton player Guy Butters.
The Rainbow Rovers’ founder and manager, Sophie Cook, is a transgender broadcaster and writer. Cook expressed the message she hoped the match would spread:
Football holds a unique position within our society to carry the message of diversity and equality into areas that are often ignored and written off.
The game is a universal language that transcends social barriers and this game will send out the message that the beautiful game belongs to everyone regard-less of sexuality, gender identity, race, religion or gender.
Football United? It’s bigger than that, it’s People United!
Highlights of the match included a 25-yard screamer from Anwar Uddin, Aldershot Town assistant manager, to equalise for Rainbow Rovers at 2-2.
UK artist and Turner Prize nominee, David Shrigley, designed the Rainbow Rovers’ kit for the match. It featured a map of East Brighton as well as the LGBTQ+ flag. Shrigley himself is a regular attendee of Whitehawk games, and expressed that his admiration for the club was a result of its progressiveness and inclusivity.
Yesterday, Whitehawk FC announced that the kit used by the Rainbow Rovers for the ‘Football United’ match will serve as the team’s new away kit.
Kevin Miller, Whitehawk commercial manager, reflected on the match:
It was a fantastic day, a day to celebrate inclusion on a weekend where the city lit a beacon for diversity across the world.
This match was all about celebrating diversity, but was also to demonstrate that Whitehawk Football Club celebrates diversity.
To the many people that came to the ground for the first time, we hope that you enjoyed your day with us and we look forward to welcoming you to Whitehawk FC during the 2019/20 season.