Sheffield football match announced to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion

24 March 2022

A one-off, mixed gender football match has been announced by Sheffield United associated organisation Sheffield Rainbow Laces.

The Sheffield Rainbow Laces Cup is back for the first time since 2019 and is scheduled to take place on the 26th of June.

The Olympic Legacy Park is set to host the Soccer-Aid style game, after it underwent a multimillion pound transformation.

Organiser James Laley said: “This event not only involves LGBTQ+ community but also many allies.

“Doing this in collaboration with a football club like Sheffield United, this strikes right at the heart of football.

“We know we aren’t going to change the world but we want people to go away knowing they can make a difference and also accepting LGBTQ+ people into football.”

In collaboration with the Sheffield United Community Foundation, the event will have a “full matchday feel”, including spectators, as well as food and drink, music and a trophy presentation.

The event is fully inclusive and is open to all players, of all genders, sexual orientations and abilities.

As well as raising awareness for LGBTQ+ inclusion in football, funds will also be raised for charity partner SAYiT, who look to transform the lives of LGBTQ+ young people through supportive group work, youth action and education.

Mr Laley says there are clear examples of the events having a positive impact on educating more people about LGBTQ+ inclusion.

He said: “A player from 2019 kept his Rainbow Laces in his boots from the match.

“He takes his son to football training and the parents and match officials ask him the reason for wearing Rainbow Laces and he is then able to educate more people about what it means.

“To me this is very powerful and shows the legacy of this event.”

The rules stipulate that at any one time there must be three or four female players on the pitch for each side, with rolling subs.

Official referees and linesmen will be officiating the match and trophies will be given to the winners and medals to the runners-up.

Mr Laley tells ShefNews that a further inclusive five-a-side tournament is planned for September, with details yet to be confirmed.

Find out more about the event here.

Written by Henry Cowling

Journalism Student at the University of Sheffield.

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