The new Team Sydney spokesperson GJ Lee -“ or just Lee to her friends -“ is passionate about the promotion of gay and lesbian sporting activities, and has a personal ambition to get more women involved.

She is a little more cautious about being the new official Team Sydney spokesperson: Anything controversial goes to the board before comment so I am confident anything I say reflects the directors’ collective thinking, she says.

Despite effective leadership in the past, Team Sydney recently decided to exist without co-presidents.

This is to emphasise the neutrality of the organisation, Lee says. It helps us work as a team of equals and avoids having leaders aligned with Chicago or Montr?.

With Chicago and Montr? both hosting major international gay and lesbian sporting events in 2006, Team Sydney is a director organisation of the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), the organisation holding the Chicago event.

Despite this, Team Sydney recognises Sydney athletes are planning to go to either or both events.

Team Sydney will meet its obligations as a director organisation of the FGG and recognises directors will support events differently, Lee says. However, as a board, we are one team with common goals.

This means Team Sydney is supporting both events.

Absolutely, Lee says.

But the support is primarily for the participants, not the events. We provide lines of communication, information about accommodation when we can and offer experience gained in attending previous international games.

Really, our aims and objectives are about local activities involving our local clubs, promoting healthy lifestyles and fostering the strength of our Sports Council.

Geoffrey Radford leads the Team Sydney Sports Council.

The Council fell into an abyss after the Gay Games in Sydney in 2002, Radford says.

There was a lot of burnout. Last year more than 20 clubs joined and the Council is now very active.

Radfordpoints out that the Team Sydney board does not direct the Sports Council, rather the board responds to the needs and requests of the Council.

Member clubs expect an umbrella atmosphere with smaller clubs able to benefit from the experience of the larger ones. When asked about current activities, Radford is enthusiastic about the Council’s progress.

He proudly holds up the Sports Festival Guide.

Fifteen events in the Sports Festival this Mardi Gras season cover a variety of sports and there will be a very good presence at Fair Day. Sports Day Out is a new initiative on 4 February designed to involve our community, their families and friends both as an introduction to organised sport and a fun day for all ages and abilities, he says.

The Council has task forces working on Physique 2006, the Tug of War tournament and various demonstrations at Fair Day. The member clubs do this in addition to their normal weekly activities; it’s the clubs that do the work the public sees.

So what’s left for the Team Sydney board to do? Lee explains:

The board brings experience, handles membership, fundraises when necessary, supports and sometimes funds new clubs, she says.

Major roles are communicating with the membership, passing on items of interest, promoting local events and advertising sports festivals and the uniform program.

Official Team Sydney uniforms were a controversial issue in the lead-up to the Sydney Gay Games.

This time we are offering a wider choice than before, Lee says.

Traditionally, city teams march in to opening ceremonies in a uniform. Most Australians participating at the last four Gay Games have worn a uniform supplied by Team Sydney. This is the fifth time Australians will show the strength and unity of our community Down Under by what they wear.

This program offers everyone the choice of two styles of polo shirts in different fabrics, one with a cotton content, Lee says.

The other is in the best of the wicking fabrics, KoolDri -“ crease-resistant, easy to pack and designed to keep you cool. The KoolDri navy with gold trim colours is also available in tee-shirts and singlets, all designed for marching in ceremonies at Chicago and Montr?. People can choose whichever style suits their physique or personality.

But wait, there’s more, Lee grins.

This time around we are offering to embroider any garment with logos chosen by the customers. The default Aussie Team 2006 logo can be replaced by one for their club, city, state or sporting team or additional logos can be embroidered, she says.

It is up to each customer to decide what they want their identity to be. The three garments in the KoolDri range are also available in other colours so sporting teams can identify when participating by having the Australian designs in their own chosen colours.

Every marching-in shirt ordered will have a free cap in the appropriate state colour to go with it and our website is geared up to take orders from all over Australia -“ we can even deliver overseas.

City teams seem to wax and wane according to the timing of the Gay Games. What is the future for Team Sydney? Host city burnout won’t be repeated, Radford says.

We look forward to this year’s overseas participants bringing back enthusiasm and experience for local competition. Our primary function is to look after gay and lesbian sport in our own city, state and, to some extent, Australia.

Sports festivals are planned for every year and our member clubs continually hold competitive events and weekly practice sessions, Lee says,

Team Sydney exists to assist new groups and promote involvement at the grass roots level.

Lee is conscious of the tasks ahead. Recruiting new members and member clubs, distributing a sports directory and keeping it up to date, maintaining our website accurately -“ there’s plenty to do.

How do Lee and Radford manage to identify with younger people who play sport? Age is but a number, Radford says. As long as we encourage and assist we will be appreciated.

Lee hasn’t thought much about age being an issue: We are seen to be the mentors; the membership is Team Sydney, not us. Sport is not only for young people; it is important for all ages to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Active and healthy are the keywords and Team Sydney seems to be in good hands. Overseas events may feature but the main play is well and truly on the local fields, courts and tracks.

Contact Team Sydney online at its website. Dave Randall is a Team Sydney director.

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