New Proud To Play sports festival to be held in New Zealand this February

SB Nation LogoBy

on Dec 2, 2015



Proud to Play NZ

New Zealand organizers of the first-ever Proud To Play festival are excited to bring an LGBT sporting event to Aukland in 2016


first heard from Proud To Play organizer Craig Watson about a month ago. He was then, and remains, energetic and excited about his groundbreaking new LGBT sports event, set to hit Auckland this February. If you’re in the area, or have an interest in going, definitely think about participating. We have the feeling this is just the beginning.

Anyhow, here’s all the info from the Proud To Play organizers…

The very first Proud to Play sports festival will take place in Auckland, New Zealand, over 13-20 February 2016.  This new event includes 15 sports and sits alongside Auckland’s Pride Festival. 

The week-long event is aimed at the LGBTIF community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, takataapui, intersex, fa’afafine, and queer people), and their friends and whanau (family). 

It is expected about 500 people from across the Asia-Pacific region will register and the organizers expect the Auckland community will be a great host.

“We’ve been working closely with local, regional, and international LGBTIF teams and sports organizations,” Craig Watson, Proud to Play director, said. “Their advice is that we should expect around 500 people participating, which is fantastic and we know the community will show those from out of town a great time here.”

The 15 sports offered are: badminton, bridge, dancesport, dragon boating, golf, lawn bowls, netball, an ocean swim, road running, roller derby, swimming, tenpin bowling, tennis, touch, and volleyball.

All levels of participation are offered, from social and entry-level grades to competitive, and you don’t need to be a member of a team right now to participate as the organizers will find you a team once you register. 

The sports competitions will be hosted in quality venues across Auckland: the Trust Arena, the West Wave Pool and Leisure Centre, Pins Lincoln, and Te Pai Tennis Club. The ocean swim is part of the well-known Bean Rock Swim.

A philosophy of inclusivity, to break down barriers

The philosophy of the new Proud to Play tournament is based on the idea of playing sport in an inclusive environment – being proud to play, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Proud to Play has welcomed three well-known athletes as Ambassadors for the festival: Louisa Wall – now part of New Zealand’s government and the MP responsible for the legislation ensuring marriage equality – she represented the country in both netball and rugby; Robbie Mason, an Olympic rower for Team New Zealand; and Blake Skjellerup, a short track speed skater who represented New Zealand at the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

“It’s great to have an LGBTIF sporting event like Proud to Play in Auckland,” said Mason. “I hope everyone of all athletic abilities will sign up for at least one sport and take part”.

“Proud to Play is a community sporting event for everyone,” Skjellerup added. “Sexuality, ability, gender, everyone is invited to take part and that is what makes Proud to Play an extremely important and exciting event”

Registration is open now, and everyone is encouraged to BE PROUD TO PLAY. 

You can register for the very first Proud to Play tournament here.

Keep up to date with all the Proud to Play news here on Facebook.

Aotearoa New Zealand a proudly diverse country

Aotearoa New Zealand is a country with a diverse and multi-cultural population.  The Auckland region in particular is known to have a superdiverse population, with more than 25% of people living there having been born overseas.

New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote, and one of the first countries to legalise same-sex marriage.  New Zealand’s rainbow community – lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, takataapui, intersex and fa’afafine people – is protected from legal, social and economic discrimination. 

For such a small country, New Zealand has some world-renowned sporting successes.  While the All Blacks are the current Rugby World Cup Champions, the Silver Ferns national netball team have held second place in the World Championships since 2007.  Individual athletes of note include Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mt Everest; Danyon Loader, Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer; Valerie Adams, world shotput record-holder; Lydia Ko, number one women’s amateur golfer; and surfer Ella Williams recently won bronze at the World Games in Nicaragua.


'Gay Vegas' reputation has global reach

NZ Herald Logo




Lincoln Tan 5:00 AM Saturday Sep 19, 2015

Same-sex couples fighting laws in own countries flock to Auckland to get married and have or adopt children.

My Kitchen Rules stars Tresne Middleton and Carly Saunders couldn't marry in Australia so had their ceremony on Waiheke Island. Photo / Supplied
My Kitchen Rules stars Tresne Middleton and Carly Saunders couldn’t marry in Australia so had their ceremony on Waiheke Island. Photo / Supplied

Auckland is being seen as the “gay Vegas” and homosexual couples from around the world are coming here to get married and have children.

Many come from countries where a same-sex relationship is considered illegal – including Singapore, Malaysia and China – or nations such as Australia, where “commitment ceremonies” are popular but do not satisfy everyone.

Australians top the list of same-sex couples coming here to tie the knot, as their country does not recognise marriage between male or female couples.

Two stars of the television show My Kitchen Rules, Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton, got married in secret on Waiheke Island last year. They were among the 500 Australians who have married here since August 2013, when the law changed.

Couples from China, the United Kingdom and Singapore have also made the journey.

Over the same period, seven children were registered to foreign male couples through adoption and one, by birth, to a female couple from Singapore.

Gay bartender Stanley Chan, 29, who spoke to the Herald in Singapore, said Auckland was considered the “Las Vegas for gay, lesbians and transgenders”.

Las Vegas is a popular marriage destination because of the ease of registering marriages there.

Like 28 Singaporean couples already, Chan and his British-born partner will be coming to Auckland in December to wed.

“I see New Zealand as a gay paradise and on what I hope will be the happiest day of my life, I want to be able to go to a place where I can celebrate our love in the open,” he said.

“In Singapore, we have to live in a secret underground world because the silly laws make it impossible for me to even openly disclose that I’m gay.”

Under section 377a of the penal code of Singapore, a man who has sex with another man can be imprisoned for up to two years.

Last year, two Singaporeans became the first female couple to have their child born in New Zealand and registered to both of them as parents.

The couple also met the Herald in Singapore but changed their minds about being interviewed because they felt it could hurt their business and land them in trouble with the law.

However, they said the main reason they chose to have their child in New Zealand was so they could have a birth certificate that listed both of them as parents.

“In Singapore, he would have been registered as a son of a single parent and it would not have correctly reflected our situation,” the birth mother of the child said.

Social worker Yangfa Leow, 40, the executive director of Oogachaga, which counsels and supports LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) in Singapore, said legal adoption there was usually allowed only for married, opposite-sex couples and single women.

This has resulted in same-sex couples finding alternative ways to include children in their lives and commit to each other, such as going to countries such as New Zealand where these are legally recognised.

The ease of exchanging vows in NZ has the LGBT community comparing it to Las Vegas.
The ease of exchanging vows in NZ has the LGBT community comparing it to Las Vegas.

“I understand that New Zealand has legalised marriage for same-sex couples, which of course is the right thing to do in terms of ensuring equality for all,” Leow said.

Last year, Lonely Planet named New Zealand the second most gay-friendly place in the world, behind Copenhagen in Denmark.

Tourism New Zealand said it did not specifically target the gay and lesbian community, but promoted the country as a great destination for weddings and honeymoons for all travellers.

Between 30,000 and 45,000 honeymooners from overseas came to New Zealand each year, spending an estimated $160 million.

After the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act, Tourism NZ ran a campaign to show how easy it is for same-sex couples from Australia to marry in New Zealand.

“There was a very positive response from same-sex couples in Australia,” said Tourism NZ spokeswoman Deborah Gray.

She said visitors were not asked to identify their sexual orientation, so there was “no robust data” to gauge the value of gay tourists.

Brett O’Riley, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development chief executive, said the organisation was supporting several gay-friendly tourism operators who directly target the gay market.

“We understand after the gay marriage legislation passed that a number of couples did see New Zealand as a destination to say ‘I do’ and gain legal marriage status, where their home countries may not allow them similar rights.”

Gay marriages in NZ

(since August 2013)


• From Australia: 264

• From China: 32

• From the UK: 22

• From Singapore: 17

• From the US: 8

• From Malaysia: 8

• From the entire world: 411


• From Australia: 236

• From China: 34

• From the UK: 13

• From the US: 13

• From Singapore: 11

• From Hong Kong: 11

• From Thailand: 10

• From the entire world: 401
(source: Dept of Internal Affairs)

Lincoln Tan travelled to Singapore with the help of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

NZ Herald

Kiwis 'most likely' to hide sexuality

Josh Kronfeld, former All Black, urges Kiwis to be more welcoming in their attitudes. Photo / Getty Images

By Simon Plumb

More young Kiwis are hiding their sexuality than anywhere else in the world, a ground-breaking homophobia study shows.

The international “Out on the Fields” study – the world’s first country comparison of homophobia in sport – makes damning reading, including 76 per cent of Kiwi respondents saying they didn’t believe it would be safe for an openly gay, lesbian or bisexual spectator to attend a sporting event, and 71 per cent saying they didn’t believe youth teams were welcoming of gays, lesbians or bisexuals.

Australian-based study co-ordinator Erik Denison said a major factor in some of the New Zealand findings was a lack of an openly gay All Black.

“We found the decisions of young people coming out are often helped by a high-profile, openly gay athlete in their sport,” Denison told the Herald on Sunday.

Read also

Coming out of the sports closet

Editorial: Good keen blokes find coming out tough

“The presence of that role model and having the support of a straight teammate are the two biggest factors in people under the age of 22 coming out of the closet.”

Rower Robbie Manson advises young people to enjoy playing sport and not feel hindered by their sexuality. Photo / Christine Cornege
Rower Robbie Manson advises young people to enjoy playing sport and not feel hindered by their sexuality. Photo / Christine Cornege

Those surveyed were asked to select from a range of possible solutions to homophobia. The top three responses from Kiwis included: “More LGB [lesbian, gay bisexual] professional sporting stars need to come out of the closet to set an example.”

Former All Black Josh Kronfeld was alarmed at the findings, urging Kiwis to be more welcoming in their attitudes, particularly towards young people trying to hide their sexual orientation.

“If someone in top Kiwi rugby were to come out, I don’t think it would be that big a deal amongst the players.

“The biggest issues would probably be driven by the fan base. There are dumb and ignorant people around.

“The male bastion has always been about being tough and alpha males. Society is realising it’s not about that any more.”