We joined LGBTQ+ football team, the Dublin Devils, at a training session, to get to know the team and their work in challenging stereotypes in Irish football.
Sport has long been a platform for unity, teamwork, and inspiration. However, the path to inclusivity has not been smooth for everyone, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. Thankfully teams like the Dublin Devils, are leading the way towards inclusivity in sports by helping create a welcoming environment for all athletes.
There has been notable progress in recent years, with the LGBTQ+ community boasting numerous talented sports teams and clubs. “And what more could a community want?”, says Fintan, the club’s goalkeeper. “This surge in participation and enthusiasm signifies a growing acceptance and desire for LGBTQ+ representation.” However, beneath the surface, there remains a less positive reality. The fear of coming out for professional athletes and the hosting of major tournaments in countries were there are still policies in place that discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals shows the need for continued efforts towards true inclusivity.
The Dublin Devils recently formed a partnership with Bohemian Football Club. It aims to revolutionise LGBTQ+ policies within Irish football. “The vision behind the partnership is to improve LGBTQ+ policy from the grassroots up. It involves lobbying, advocating for change, and working closely with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to develop inclusive policies,” Adam, the club’s Public Relations Officer, told us. Bohemian FC’s support extends beyond policy improvements, as they provide coaching for the Dublin Devils’ teams and organise social events throughout the year. The partnership also highlights the significance of visibility and acceptance within stadiums and grounds nationwide, setting a precedent for other clubs in the League of Ireland to follow suit.
Addressing the prevalence of homophobia in sports, the Dublin Devils acknowledge that negative experiences often force LGBTQ+ individuals to abandon their sporting aspirations. “Homophobia affects everything through policing the boundaries of masculinity. The damaging impact of stereotypes highlights the urgent need to educate and inform people about homophobia’s pervasive effects,” says Fintan. “Equality in sports and comprehensive research on LGBTQ+ experiences are essential in dismantling the barriers that hinder progress for everyone.”
To LGBTQ+ individuals pursuing sports, the Dublin Devils offer invaluable advice based on their own journey. They stress the importance of authenticity, encouraging athletes to be themselves unapologetically. Embracing your identity not only fosters resilience but also enhances performance. “Within inclusive teams like ours, toxic masculinity finds no place, allowing players to thrive in a supportive environment,” says Fintan. “These teams are places for people to feel safe, where they know that they won’t encounter homophobia.” Creating public spaces that champion acceptance and provide sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community is vital to fostering a more inclusive sporting landscape.
The Dublin Devils’ voices echo the triumphs and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ athletes in their quest for inclusion in sports. Their partnership with Bohemian Football Club is a testament to both organisations’ commitment to driving change. As we celebrate Pride and reflect on progress, we must remember that the journey towards equality is ongoing. The Dublin Devils’ insights remind us of the transformative power of authenticity, supportive teams, and safe spaces within the sporting realm. By amplifying their voices and embracing diversity, we can create a future where every athlete feels seen, valued, and celebrated, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Let their stories inspire us to champion inclusivity, one game at a time.