As part of Pride Month the IFF has selected one organisation/club to highlight the work they do in the world of floorball for the LGBTI+ community. The Perth Parrots Floorball Club are a LGBTI+ inclusive floorball club in the United Kingdom, based in Perth, Scotland.
The club was set up in 2019 with the aims of providing a pathway for the LGBTI community to access floorball and to help grow the sport in Scotland, to offer additional social activity opportunities as part of a wider club and community-focused programme, and to increase LGBTI visibility, challenge discrimination and champion inclusion in Floorball and beyond.
Chair and Founder of the Parrots Frazer Robertson (he/him) explains how the club came to be: “Perth Parrots Floorball Club formed in 2019 to address an identified lack of sporting provisions for the LGBTI+ community in Perthshire. Working with Perthshire Pride the club conducted a scoping exercise, opting for Floorball as the sport was low impact and the Scottish League allowed individuals to play in a team regardless of their gender identity. Combined this helped provide a safe and welcoming space for members of the LGBTI+ community and allies. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown, the club continues to flourish and positively benefit the community we sought to champion, helping evidence the need for LGBTI+ inclusive teams. Sport should be for everyone and in our small way, we are helping achieve that goal.”
Since its creation, the Parrots have championed LGBTI+ inclusion, with each hour of training starting with a welcome circle allowing all members to introduce themselves and state their pronouns. Alongside this, all tournament and training tops include the player’s pronouns on the sleeve as a way of fostering a safe and welcoming space for all members. The three-hour weekly training sessions are broken into two parts to accommodate the wide range of participants in the club. The first hour is aimed at those looking for fun and fitness and for those learning the sport, the second hour brings together the whole club and allows the members to mix in a sporting environment, while the last hour serves as a more intense session for those who want to play in the Scottish Floorball League.
The Scottish Floorball League have also been supportive of the Perth Parrots, with the team just completing its first season in the league, and giving members of the LGBTI community an opportunity to play competitive floorball, which for some would have been their first foray in a competitive sport environment! As well as the weekly training sessions, the Parrots also offer a weekly Fitness session, giving a less competitive sporting option or the chance for those who are playing in the league to add that extra level of fitness to the game. These Circuit sessions are run free by the club on the North Inch in Perth, with funding secured to take the sessions indoors this year when the clocks go back.
Atlas Martin (he/him) captains the Club in the Scottish Floorball League and explains the importance of LGBTI inclusion in sport: “As a community, we often face barriers when it comes to sport and exercise that keep us from participating. Lots of gay and lesbian people have damaging early experiences of homophobia in physical education or sport-related settings, and trans and non-binary people can encounter challenges around gendered categories and facilities; these are just a couple of examples. Explicit inclusion of LGBTI+ folks in sport helps to start breaking down these barriers, allowing queer people access to all of the massive benefits that we know come with participating in regular sport. That has certainly been my personal experience with the Perth Parrots!”
All kits used by the Parrots proudly display the Leap Sports Logo on the sleeve to recognise the unwavering support offered by the sports charity since the club’s formation. Alongside the floorball and fitness activities, the club also have an action-packed social calendar which has included, Darts and Pool nights, laser tag, water sports, rock climbing, two Eurovision parties and the first annual Ceilidh held earlier this year to name a few. The Social events recognise that not every member of the LGBTI community wants to participate in a sporting activity and instead wants a place to meet and interact with others from the community in a social, safe and welcoming environment.
This July the Perth Parrots will be taking a squad to the 2023 Euro Games in Bern as part of Team Scotland. The EuroGames are a multi-sport event catering to the LGBTI+ community and licensed by the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation. The games celebrate diversity and provide a safe space for everyone to come together and play sports.
Kirsty Welling (she/her) will be captaining the Parrots Team at the EuroGames and spoke about what it means for the club to be attending the games: “This is another important step for the Perth Parrots and we are growing in terms of size and impact all the time. It is a fantastic honour to be representing our country and the LGBTI community. Visible LGBTI sporting role models are still very limited and it’s our hope that we are helping address that by inspiring others from the LGBTI community to re-engage in sport. Meeting other LGBTI clubs from across Europe is something we are really excited about.”
The club also released a short documentary recently entitled “Every Time We Play, We Win”. It is a short video documentary that reframes what it means to be winning in sport, focusing on the impact the club has had upon the local LGBTI+ community and lives of its members, including forming new and lasting friendships, reducing isolation and improving physical health and mental wellbeing.
Perth Parrots Floorball Club can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram- @PerthParrots.
Source: Perth Parrots