Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 04 August 2021

Rainbow Rovers Kick-off The First Officially Endorsed Sussex LGBTQ Match @ Whitehawk Football Club

Football's history books are being rewritten this month, as Rainbow Rovers, Whitehawk Football Club's affiliated LGBTQ+ team, are back in action with Football United 2.

The team, composed of some of the best LGBTQ+ players and supporters in the country and managed by Dr Sophie Cook HonDLitt, FRSA writer, speaker, broadcaster & diversity champion, will take on an all star mixed gender ex-professional team in partnership with team sponsors Utilita, in Football United 2 on Saturday, August 7, 2021, kick off 3pm.
The game will be one of the first in the County to be officially sanctioned, as they partner with the Sussex County FA in an ongoing pilot to increase the amount of Adult Mixed Gender Football events, and to engage with the LGBT+ Community in Brighton. 

Sophie Cook, the first Transgender woman to work in professional football and manager of Rainbow Rovers, said: 

"When we originally launched Rainbow Rovers back in 2019 our ambitious idea of creating a trailblazing mixed-gender team of LGBT+ players was unheard of within football and yet here we are two years later with the Sussex County FA endorsing our match as part of their pilot looking into the feasibility and issues affecting mixed-gender football. 

"For our players, many of whom had expressed difficulty being involved in the game previously due to their sexuality or gender identity, it was the experience of a lifetime to walk onto the pitch at Whitehawk's Terrapura Ground alongside players that they had followed for their entire lives.

"Since I came out as transgender at AFC Bournemouth back in 2015 the game has taken great strides forward towards LGBT inclusion with support from all levels of the game. 

"Unfortunately there is still more to do and I hope that Rainbow Rovers plays a small part in showing people that bigotry and abuse within the beautiful game is unacceptable, and that football really is for all."

The pilot creates open-access to all - removing barriers for men, women, and the LGBTQ+ / non-binary community to play the beautiful game together.

There's also a competition for fans to be part of the Utilita All-Stars team —   details will be available on the Rainbow Rovers website, and the website and via social media channels. 

Further announcements on some very special national and international players taking part on the day will be announced in the coming days.

Chief Executive of the Sussex County FA, Ken Benham, added: 

"We truly believe that football is For ALL, and as a County FA we are proud to be supporting Whitehawk FC and Rainbow Rovers.
"The work they have done already to help increase awareness of LGBTQ+ inclusion in football has been amazing, and with The FA now confirming the event as a mixed adult football pilot, it will help increase awareness further and we are delighted to be part of this fantastic event."
For further information and player profiles visit

The match will be broadcast LIVE on Whitehawk FC's Youtube Channel, Hawks TV, courtesy of Sports Media Company Your Instant Replay

Tickets are £5 Adult, kids 10 and under free click HERE

by: Mike Cobley


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