Play Proud: social change
This week is an important one in the public profile of LGBTQ issues, with The Economist’s global Pride and Prejudice conference taking place across Hong Kong, London and New York today (24 May). Its aim is to catalyse a fresh debate on the economic and human costs of discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Delegates at Pride and Prejudice will hear from leaders across the worlds of business, politics and society as they come together to address LGBTQ issues head-on.
Scrolling through the agendas for each city’s event, the word sport features only once, in a case study session led by Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games. This doesn’t mean the connection between sport and the LGBTQ agenda won’t come up more during conference debates. But it is interesting it doesn’t play a more obvious part. Sport has the ability to change the world in many positive ways.
Here at Tea & Water we are currently working with NGO streetfootballworld on Play Proud, a campaign focusing on using sport as a way to address social issues, in this case LGBTQ. The campaign is about changing the world through football by creating a safe and supportive football environment for LGBTQ youths. It will share real-life experiences of how streetfootballworld’s network organisations have used sport to help kids struggling to deal with gender and sexuality.
LGBTQ obviously follows people into all walks of life and at any age. For children, life can be incredibly hard just because you’re a kid. But life as an LGBTQ kid can be even harder. But unlike life, football is a fair game. It can be a safe haven from the world at large. The football team should be a place where children are free of fear and discrimination, a place where nobody bullies, ridicules or threatens anyone else.
During practice and game time everyone is united towards a common goal. Like any sport, trust and love for the game connects the players. A team that wants to win the game needs to be accepting and supportive in every possible way. This includes LGBTQ kids being able to play proud: and to feel safe, feel understood and be part of it all.
But coaches and players don’t always know how to welcome an LGBTQ kid the right way. So much can go wrong, even with the best intentions. The Play Proud programme is designed to help, allowing coaches to spot children who might be in a tough place. It helps coaches create the most welcoming environment possible in the team.
Gaining confidence and letting go of fear can make a big difference not just for those who want to come out or be who they truly are. It can make a difference for an entire sport and the communities that surround it by driving social change.
Programmes and campaigns like these really matter and today seems like a good day to be thinking about them a bit more.
Show your support for the Play Proud programme at CrowdRise