Team Limerick is one the newest members to the EGLSF and we would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the team.

Limerick is a city with a deep-rooted sporting heritage, and one with a vibrant LGBT community. In 2013, Limerick emerged as one of the three finalists vying for the chance to host the 2018 Gay Games alongside Paris and London. So it’s no surprise that Team Limerick (TL) launched to meet the growing demand for LGBT sports in the city.

TL is a multi-sport LGBT group; we’re newly-formed at the minute and we’re looking for more members to join. The idea is that from the needs of the members we’ll look at what sports we do. TL is about inclusion and listening to the needs of the members. If the members want to be involved in a particular sport then we will work with them for that to happen. TL is all about the members.

We often get asked why there is a need for dedicated LGBT Sports Clubs in Ireland since we have just passed the Marriage Equality Bill. Our answer to that question is simple; Homophobia in sport is still an issue and we wanted to create a space for people to be themselves.

The recent ‘Out on the Fields’ study, which questioned 9,500 people worldwide and 501 in Ireland, found that Ireland was the second worst offender in relation to the inclusion of LGBT people in sport, with 75 per cent of Irish respondents saying they had witnessed or experienced homophobia.

According to the survey, 83 per cent of gay men and 89 per cent of gay women are partially in the closet with regard to their teammates, hiding their sexuality from some or all of their fellow team members.

Team sports are all about involvement and getting on together, so if someone doesn’t feel comfortable about coming out to their teammates, that’s sad, and these figures are so high.

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Cillian Flynn, Team Limerick at Thomond Park (Home of Munster Rugby) promoting Team Limerick

The study rated the United States as the worst offender in relation to the inclusion of LGBT people in sports, followed by Ireland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Some 58 per cent of all participants and 71 per cent of gay men also said that they believe homophobia is more common in Irish sports than the rest of society. A further 75 per cent said they believed youth team sports are not welcoming or safe for LGBT people in Ireland.

Its reports like this that tell us that there is a need for groups like Team Limerick.

We look forward to welcoming delegates from the Federation of Gay Games to the 2015 FGG Annual General Assembly which will take place in Limerick this October (October 14-19). The event is supported by Fáilte Ireland, Shannon Region Conference & Sports Bureau, Shannon Airport and Castletroy Park Hotel.

As part of the event “The People of the Republic of Ireland” will receive the Federation of Gay Games’ Medal of Honour Legacy Award for 2015, in recognition of the nation’s legalisation of same sex marriage earlier this year.

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Cillian Flynn, Team Limerick Adam Skerritt, Fáilte Ireland Karen Brosnahan, Shannon Region Conference & Sports Bureau Joanie Evans, FGG Co-President Cillian Flynn & John James Hickey, Team Limerick

Ireland became the first country to use a national referendum to make such a decision, with 60 per cent of the public supporting such a change in a vote held on May 23.

The Medal of Honour is the most prestigious in a series of awards designed to acknowledge “outstanding individuals and institutions whose work contributes to the mission and values of the FGG”.

Other recent recipients include American author and journalist Patricia Nell Warren and Canada’s David Secter, director of the 2005 film “Take The Flame” Gay Games: Grace, Grit, and Glory”.

On a local level, it is hoped that Team Limerick will play its part in the fight against homophobia, and in opening up attitudes towards the involvement of LGBT people in the sporting world.

But aside from that, the club promises to provide a fun, inclusive, accepting environment for anyone in Limerick to make friends, get fit, and play their favourite sports.

If people want to get involved in sport but don’t feel ready to join a mainstream club, we’d say to them: ‘Come along, make some friends, get to play your sport.

But it’s not just for LGBT people, it’s an LGBT sports club but it’s open to everyone, it’s open to supporters and allies, it’s open to anyone that wants to come along and be involved.

For more information about Team Limerick, go to www.teamlimerick.com or email hello@teamlimerick.

For members of EGLSF attending the FGG AGA we look forward to extending a large Céad Míle Fáilte to Ireland and in particular to our home of Limerick.