A brand new sports club has been set up in Merseyside, Liverpool and it wants to show other clubs how LGBTQ+ inclusion is done.
Cricket club Mersey Rose Recreationals was developed specifically with diversity and inclusion in mind, with club captains hoping to foster a welcoming environment for everyone who wants to play, no matter their gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, social background, neurodiversity, or age.
It’s a goal that’s not being set by too many teams these days, with more and more sports and athletics associations announcing LGBTQ+ restrictions to their policies – particularly targetting transgender women.
One of the club’s captains, Andi Page, told the Liverpool Echo that playing a sport with hardly any other “out” LGBTQ+ people motivated him to do build an all-new club.
Taking inspiration from the Birmingham Unicorns, Page and his team are hoping to build a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people who are looking for somewhere to play and belong.
“As an LGBTQ+ person, it’s always been important to me to be visible and be honest about who I am,” he told the local publication.
“I’ve been playing cricket for 10 years and while I’ve only encountered a small amount of overt homophobia and transphobia, I’ve found that there aren’t too many LGBTQ+ people playing cricket. That’s often because clubs don’t know how to be welcoming and reach out to our community.”
The club, which will only organise friendly matches against other local teams, will consist of two different mixed-gender teams: a hardball team and a softball team.
Anna Page, who is captain of the club’s softball team aimed at players who have a disability or are brand new to the game, said that the “most important thing” to her and the rest of the team was “building a community where playing ability matters less than sense of belonging and the opportunity to come as you are and enjoy yourself.”
Compared to “traditional” sports club models that often “inadvertently exclude a lot of peple, Page says Mersey Rose Recreationals’ “entire purpose” is to provide inclusive cricket.
“We don’t just want to talk about inclusion,” she said. “We’re determined to put it into action.”
The club’s website makes it abundantly clear that they’re accepting of all members – particularly those who might not have felt comfortable being their “full selves” in sports or a team setting before.
A statement from the club notes that, today, there are a lot of “social and cultural barriers” to those who are LGBTQ+, neurodivergent, older, living with a disability or mental health difficulties – and they hope to change that.
On LGBTQ+ inclusion, they comment: “It can be difficult to be open or ‘out’ orientation and gender identity. The lack of ‘out’ LGBTQ+ people in elite men’s cricket underlines this. Even at grassroots level, there are few LGBTQ+ players and many find they can’t really be themselves at mainstream sports clubs.
“We want to break down those barriers to inclusion and create a culture that is welcoming, inclusive and supportive.”
The club’s mixed gender sports teams also ensure that everyone feels welcome to participate – as well as their zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or sexism.