Birmingham LGBT football sessions to provide 'safe space'

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Weekly football sessions have launched to try to get more LGBT people playing the sport.

The over-18s sessions are run by community team Birmingham Blaze FC.

They run every Wednesday at 19:00 GMT at Ark St Albans Academy, and have been funded by the Birmingham Pride Community Trust Fund.

Co-chair John-Paul Kesseler said: "Not everyone had the ability when they were younger to join a football team."

He added many would-be players had faced "homophobia or bigotry".

Mr Kesseler said Birmingham Blaze FC, which was set up in 2005, started the "Free Football For All" sessions so as many people as possible could enjoy the game while helping Blaze grow as a club and a community.

"We're a safe space and a safe haven for people who just want to play football," he said.

The club was awarded £1,740 at Birmingham Pride 2022 to help set up the initiative.

But Mr Kesseler said while his club was making such efforts close to home, the FIFA World Cup being hosted by Qatar from 20 November had "angered" him.

Qatar has been criticised for its stance on same-sex relationships.

"I'm going to watch the World Cup with England, I'm going to watch Harry Kane wearing that rainbow armband with pride, but it will be with a slightly sour taste in my mouth," he said.