Third Manchester LGBT tournament thrives in the rain

Tue 23 May 2017

On Saturday 20 May, BSUK and Pride Sports celebrated diversity in hosting the third annual LGBT Charity Softball Tournament at Parrs Wood School in Didsbury, Manchester.

This year’s event had the largest entry so far, with 10 teams including two brand-new teams formed exclusively for the tournament – the Chester Drawers from Rapid News and the Independent Options from a charity based in Stockport.  The remaining entrants were rookie teams from the Manchester and Sefton Softball Leagues.

The tournament was won by Phoenix, who defeated the Bombers in the final, while the Plate Champions were the St Helens Sabres, with the Mayhem Freeze as runners-up.

Rain … and more rain

The forecast had warned of an impending downpour, but the tournament started at 10.00 am with blue skies and sun.   However, this was soon followed by three hours of solid rain, which fortunately didn’t dampen the spirit of the players. 

Although teams were not made up exclusively of LGBT players, many of them used the opportunity to get rookie players tournament experience while supporting their teammates in the LGBT community, and rainbow accessories were in abundance!

The consistent rain made an inevitable impact on the Parrs Wood pitches, and bases had to be moved not once but twice to avoid damage to the fields where Manchester Softball League teams play weekly.

With so many brand-new players competing, many of whom had never played a game before this tournament, safety balls were used throughout to limit the possibility of injury to rookie players. 

A dry patch around 3.00 pm allowed a scheduled half hour of fundraising activities to take place, including a coconut shy (a crowd favourite!) and a new addition: pitch tyre toss.  In just this short period of time more than £100 in donations were raised for the chosen charity, Pride Youth Games+.

Inclusivity

Lyndsey Bygrave from BSUK’s newly-formed LGBT Advisory Panel came to the event to speak to players and share ideas about how to make softball even more inclusive.  The Panel sees the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans players as important to encourage more LGBT people to get involved.

Lyndsey said, "The conversations I had were really insightful, and included discussions about gender requirements with consideration to agender and non-binary people, Pride parade floats and targeting older LGBT people who may not be used to so much acceptance, especially in a sports environment.  These thoughts and ideas will be fed into the next Panel meeting in July.

“The willingness to support everyone in the game is there,” Lyndsey added, “and with so much pride from LGBT people and their allies on the day, it's very exciting to see what the future holds in terms of BSUK leading the way towards full inclusivity for LGBT people."

BSUK Development Manager Luis Arrevillagas and North West Coach Linni Mitchell have worked closely with Lou Englefield, Director of Pride Sports, to ensure the tournament is as inclusive as it possibly can be.

Luis said, “Despite the rain, people had a ball.  We raised some funds for the Youth Pride Games, which was the aim of the tournament, and we showed once more how inclusive softball really is.”

Linni Mitchell added “It was great to see such a variety of people undeterred by the weather, donning colourful face paint and glitter, enjoying the sport and raising money for a great cause.”

Due to the popularity of the event, there are plans for next year to open the tournament to B-grade and C-grade teams as well as those at D-grade.

Final standings

1 -- Phoenix (Champion)
2 -- Bombers
3 -- Rippers
4 -- MMUC Eagles
5 -- St Helens Sabres (Plate Champion)
6 -- Mayhem Freeze
7 -- Titans
8 -- Independent Options
9 -- Chicken Dippers
10 -- Chester Drawers

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