The Sydney Benstix completed a golden double at the Wellington Outgames today, winning both the men’s and women’s field hockey events.
The women’s side defeated New Zealand 1-0 in the opening match of the day at the National Hockey Stadium at Mt Albert Park.
The men’s team defeated Melbourne 1-0 in a golden goal grand final showdown, with the New Zealand team taking out the bronze medal.
Benstix team manager and founder Danny Caretti said he was feeling “out of this world”.
“It really gives me a great sense of achievement – we’re all very proud and out gays and lesbians and everyone is feeling a great sense of pride,” he said.
It was the first time Benstix has fielded a women’s team in an international tournament since the 2006 Euro Pride Games. The team advertised for players through the Star Observer sport pages.
“We used the Outgames as an opportunity to get women interested in the club,” Caretti said.
“By January we knew we had a team and today it just all came together – it was just brilliant.”
For the men, the win today means they now have a full complement of gay and lesbian hockey titles. They won the Euro Pride Games in 2006; took out gold at the World Outgames in Copenhagen in 2009; and won last year’s Gay Games gold medal.
Coach Stephen Mina said although the team struggled in the early rounds, they came out fighting when it counted most.
“They put in 110 percent effort,” the 24-year-old said. “Everyone out there was committed today and I am immensely proud of them. “
The Benstix started in 1996 as a social team that played mostly as part of the annual Mardi Gras sports festival. But when Sydney won the right to host the Gay Games in 2002, the side decided to up the ante.
Since those initial international silver and bronze medals, the Benstix has helped seed teams in Melbourne and London and is hoping to generate further interest in gay and lesbian hockey teams around the world using events like the Outgames and Gay Games and launching pads.
Caretti said, given the success of the 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames in Wellington, he was now confident of setting up an annual Mardi Gras tournament between Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand.
“Now Melbourne has a core group of players again, and there is definite interest from New Zealand, I think it would be a great thing for the sport,” he said.