The campaign has been led by hockey player Beth Fisher
Welsh hockey star Beth Fisher, Wales’ LGBT hockey ambassador, with the rainbow lacesWelsh hockey star Beth Fisher, Wales’ LGBT hockey ambassador, with the rainbow laces
A campaign aimed at making life easier for gay hockey players has been a resounding success.
Hockey Wales was inundated with requests for its “rainbow laces” and ran out within a week of launching their campaign which was fronted by Wales women’s hockey star Beth Fisher.
Hockey Wales is now extending the #Hoctober campaign not only to clubs, but also to coaches, umpires, officials and others involved in the sport who want to show their support to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) network.
LGBT Sport Network formed in 2013
Fisher, the 32-year-old from Penarth, who lives in Cardiff with former Wales netball star, Abergavenny’s Cara Moseley, started the campaign earlier this month by playing with a “rainbow hockey stick” to symbolise her role as Welsh hockey’s first LGBT ambassador.
Her rainbow stick was supplied by her sponsors Grays International, whose brands include Gilbert, the official ball suppliers to the Rugby World Cup 2015.
Cardiff and Met Hockey team with their boot tied with rainbow lacesCardiff and Met Hockey team with their boot tied with rainbow laces. Pic Credit :Irfon Bennett
The LGBT Sport Network was formed in 2013 in response to research conducted by Sport Wales.
The work identified that while many lesbian, gay and bisexual people were interested in sport, they have also been put off by negative experiences or the perception it’s an unpleasant and unsafe environment for gay people.
‘I don’t want anyone to feel like I did’
Midfielder Beth, who went to Howell’s School in Llandaff, Cardiff, plays hockey for the Swansea City Spartans and is a regular in the Welsh team.
Speaking about her ambassador role she said: “I don’t want anyone to feel like I did, and if I help one little girl or boy be more confident then I’ve done my job.”
Richard Jones, Hockey Wales’ lead on inclusion said: “We were really impressed with the number of clubs that got in touch and wanted to go the extra mile in showing their commitment to a more inclusive sport.
“Our National League men’s side, Cardiff & Met, were among the clubs to sign up and they’ve been wearing the laces in their fixtures throughout #Hoctober.
Additional 200 pairs of laces
“But we’ve also had requests from a number of other groups, including international level umpires that also want to show their support, which is fantastic.”
Hockey Wales was the first national governing body to sign the LGBT Sport Cymru Charter in 2014.
Hockey international Beth Fisher is taking part in a campaign run by LGB&T Sport Cymru to mark National Coming Out Day on October 11
A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “We continue to strive to ensure its clubs offer quality hockey opportunities in a safe and friendly sporting environment for members of the LGBT community, free from bullying and discrimination.
“An additional 200 pairs of rainbow laces are now going on offer to members of the hockey family in Wales who want to demonstrate their commitment to inclusive hockey.
“Those claiming laces will be listed as a LGBT friendly club on LGBT Sport Cymru’s new website, which launches at the end of November.”
‘I felt I couldn’t be myself’
Fisher added: “I’m delighted that we’ve such a response.
“Rainbow laces are a small gesture, but it delivers a huge statement which I hope will help all players, coaches, volunteers and officials involved in hockey feel welcome and safe”
She said: “Growing up I lied to my family and I lied to my friends because I wasn’t sure what their reaction would be if they found out I was gay.
“I purposely distanced myself away because I felt I couldn’t be myself.
“I didn’t know anyone who was gay and we certainly were never taught about it in school.
“The word lesbian would often be used as some sort of negative label for someone who wasn’t the flavour of the month.
“I’m honoured and excited to be a LGBT sport ambassador for Wales.”