Being involved in the management of sports organisations gives one the opportunity to form and maintain relationships with various levels of the community — not merely the gay and lesbian community, but wider society.

Sporting heroes are promoted as role models for the young, and abused by us all should they fail to be perfect. We follow every intolerable incident on and off the field in the media. TV and online media grind out hours of ‘sports coverage’ to this effect.

Once in a while, an incident reminds us of the normalcy of our lives, and the real reasons for playing sport in the first place.

Many of Australia’s gay and lesbian sporting clubs and groups have too few members or teams to conduct in-house competitions or events. So we find gay water polo teams competing in local competitions, women playing AFL in mixed competitions, and events that gather teams from various clubs or leagues, knowingly accommodating teams from the gay and lesbian community.

Recently in Brisbane a couple of Aces United teams who are predominantly gay placed in the top four in two different divisions in a local volleyball competition.

Sydney’s Freezone Volleyball, having played in state cups over the past two months, had teams from host clubs register their interest in the club’s spring tournament.

Not to be outdone by the Melbourne Spikers event on the June long weekend, one of Sydney’s largest and strongest, Baulkham Hills Volleyball, has scheduled an event that promises to be one of the gay and lesbian community’s highlights — the Mixed Nuts Tournament.

Promoted as a social event, the competition will be fierce across three divisions, from recreational to Honours categories.

The appeal of the event, however, is its gender-bender nature. Teams must contain a mixture of men and women, and if they don’t have enough of either, they may create them.

Freezone’s strength will be in its players’ abilities to dress well as girls regardless of their birth gender, with many of the club’s ‘boys’ understanding the true meaning of ‘well heeled’.

Organisers are ensuring fairness from the onset of competition, modifying rules to ensure that perceived ‘gender advantage’ normally accredited to males is eliminated or modified. The support of the state volleyball association shows the spirit of the tournament in bending everything.

Our community counts sporting clubs and groups in many areas as strong supporters of gender equality, with harsh penalties for breaches of ‘gender slurs, verbal or physical abuse and all forms of bullying’.

Let us take a moment to celebrate the support of sportspeople — everyday players to world champions — who have let the world know equality matters to them and post this in our networks and social pages to say thanks. Don’t use this as a ‘winter is coming’ excuse not to get out to play, however.

Join a club event or regular activity. Find clubs and groups at www.teamsydney.org.au www.teammelbourne.org www.teamadelaide.org Brisbane, etc.

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