It promises to be one of the largest teams ever assembled to represent Ireland when up to 90 athletes across a range of sports travel to Paris in August for the 10th Gay Games.
It is a team that has come together due to the persistence and the enthusiasm of a core group of volunteers and yesterday the team launched its preparations with a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister of State for Sport, Brendan Griffin at Government Buildings.
The team is self-financing and is currently discussing a number of sponsorship opportunities with companies who see it as an important statement with regard to their own approach to diversity.
“The Games are open to all participants and there is a strong social as well as a competitive element to it,” said Aidan Walsh, one of the driving forces behind bringing the team together.
“We want to promote sport and getting physically active within the LGBT community. There is a bigger drop off among gay people participating in sport than in the general public and we want to address that.”
Sport has lagged behind society in terms of an open acceptance of being gay but things are improving at a faster rate in Ireland than elsewhere.
Players like Donal Óg Cusack and Valerie Mulcahy in the GAA and Lyndsay Peat in Rugby have shown that being gay is no bar to performing in sport at the highest level.
Some we spoke to yesterday questioned whether the idea of a Gay Games was needed but the fact that there are no openly gay players in the English Premier league in soccer shows either that the sport is a massive statistical anomaly or that there is still work that needs to be done in sport to ‘normalise’ whatever your sexuality happens to be.
The team travelling to Paris will include participants across a wide range of sports from football and badminton to triathlon and martial arts.
It could have been a shorter journey with Limerick bidding but just missing out on hosting the games this time around.
Sport for Business member Teamwear produced the kit for the official launch yesterday and will do for the team before they head to Paris in the summer.
In the meantime though, there is still an opportunity for a progressive brand to help in the funding of the team and associate themselves with a team who can talk about diversity and overcoming challenges in a way that will resonate with their workforce and wider society. There is also a crowdfunding campaign almost ready to go to raise the money to back the team.
If you think that might be you get in touch today and let’s see if we can make that happen.
Image Credit: Morgan Treacy Inpho