Since April 2006, when 14 members of Kaiata Volleyball Club joined Sydney’s Freezone Volleyball Club after the Mardi Gras Tournament, both clubs have progressed and climbed in the NSW Volleyball rankings.

Sunday training sessions at Sydney Boys High School have been the focus for working together in building teams, gathering new participants and acceptance of each other’s views.

Pejay Clark, who has been instrumental in driving the union of the clubs, is now a member of the Freezone committee, and Freezone’s teams coordinator.

We must never understate the role of sport, teams, and the physical interaction of adults in breaking down barriers, Clarke said.

Prejudices of the school playground often inhibit gay and lesbian sports people from further participation. Negative experiences drive people away from sport, even when they enjoy a particular sport or skill set.

For many in the community, these experiences are never overcome; resulting in poor self image, or a self image that requires artificial props -“ such as drugs or alcohol -“ to develop a -˜social alter-ego’ which is displayed at work, home or play.

The Freezone Constitution, as well as the international rules under which competition is conducted, expressly forbids conduct that brings the sport into disrepute, recently expanded with the introduction of vilification rules.

Kaiata have joined with Freezone to encourage and promote the sport of volleyball within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community.

Formed 25 years ago, Freezone Volleyball has become more competitive and caters for more members on a regular basis than ever.

The Samoan meaning of the name Kaiata is dawn, or a new beginning. As a joint entity, both clubs have attained a wonderful standard of volleyball, with the club now ranked at No. 2 in Volleyball NSW’s State Cup competition.

The Kaiata Women’s Team is ranked No.1 after the 2007 season. The men’s team is ranked fourth overall.

When we play together, we better understand each others differences and similarities, Clark said.

The bonds that form when on tour, in tournaments and at social events form the basis of many life long friendships within both clubs. Many players participate in each others teams, train together and socialize together.

As a team member individuals constantly have to compromise and adjust to the circumstances around them. The unbiased interaction on the court breaks down barriers in the social subgroups of the clubs.

Kaiata secretary Pamela Christensen-Aropio said the coming together seemed natural.

We both have the same beliefs: being welcoming and supportive of cultural differences, being gay-friendly, and passionate about volleyball, she said.

We appreciate Volleyball NSW for their support during 2007.

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