Although Mardi Gras seems to be all about launches, fairs and dance parties, there are many in the community who insist what Mardi Gras is really all about is sport.
Five sporting organisations are holding tournaments on Saturday as part of the Mardi Gras festival, involving such sports as hockey, squash, rogaining, snorkelling and volleyball.
Hundreds of competitors will take part in the sporting days at venues traversing the city from Watsons Bay to Little Bay.
The Sydney Frontrunners traditional Mardi Gras fun run has this year given way for something a little more novel with the introduction of the Randy Rogaine.
Rogaining, or orienteering as it is also known, will involve a large number of groups criss-crossing Centennial Park as they hunt out clues and run from point to point in the name of completing the task.
According to Frontrunners president Zoe King, rogaining is a game of skill. Everyone will be on an even playing field because it is more about using your smarts rather than just being fast, she says. People will be split into groups of three, with a mixture of abilities.
There will be groups of people crossing the park from all different directions as they attempt to work out where to go next. One of our members does a lot of rogaining events and he has it all organised, so we’re all expecting to have a lot of fun with it.
The depths of Sydney Harbour will be attracting dedicated divers as the Sydney Underwater Buddies Dive and Snorkel takes place in the waters off Camp Cove, Watsons Bay.
This is SUBS 13th Mardi Gras day adventure for members and other certified divers. We go out as a group for about an hour, and Camp Cove is such a beautiful location for snorkelling and offers such great visibility, club member Matt Kaine says.
All visiting divers will, however, be required to show proof of qualification before taking to the water.
Australia’s world champion hockey team Bentstix is hosting the inaugural Australian Pink Hockey Championships at the University of NSW playing fields at Little Bay.
Bentstix, which took out the Gold Medal last year at the European Gay Games to earn the title of Men’s Pink Hockey World Champions, will stage its 11th Mardi Gras tournament, offering a mixed competition, with modified rules to make it more accessible to all levels of players.
We are expecting to play about six games in total, so it’s a pretty full day, Bentstix president Danny Caretti says. We welcome people of all skill levels, and there is a very social aspect to the day.
One of the star members of Bentstix is drag diva Trudi Valentine, who is better known on the team as Phillip. Phillip will be playing as he is one of our star players, and I am sure Trudi will be making an appearance at some time during the day, Caretti says.
All the squash action will be at the Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre, where Gsquash is staging its 15th Mardi Gras sports day.
Players of all levels are invited to play in the four separate divisions, although G-Sports coordinator Carin Clonda says the action in Division One is for the highly skilled players.
Division One does get a little fierce, but I think it is good to let the competitive spirit out, she says. We have about 30 people turning up aged from 25 to 60, and each person should get five games each.
Everyone is welcome and we don’t discriminate. The only stipulation is they must love squash, she laughs.
It’s two days of volleyball action on Saturday and Sunday in the Freezone Volleyball Tournament, with all grades of teams and players gathering from around Sydney and interstate at the UTS Sydney Boys High School Gym.
The action will be fast and furious as players serve, spike, block and smash their way to victory.
The sports continue two weeks later on Sunday 12 March at Blacktown Olympic Park when the bats and balls come out for the Sydney Outfielders GLBTQ Slow Pitch Softball.
Sport is important to Mardi Gras, Carin Clonda says. It transcends all barriers and boundaries and is a common denominator which brings people together in a field of competition. Sport is always good for the spirit.
SATURDAY 25 FEBRUARY
Randy Rogaine -“ 8.30am, Centennial Park
Sydney Underwater Buddies Dive & Snorkel -“ 9am, Camp Cove
Bentstix Pink Hockey Championships -“ 10am-4pm, UNSW Playing Fields, Little Bay
Get Squashed -“ 10am-3pm, Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre
Freezone Volleyball -“ 1pm-6pm, UTS Sydney Boys High School Gym
SUNDAY 12 MARCH
Sydney Outfielders Softball -“ 10am-4pm, Blacktown Olympic Park