Some enjoy the scorching sun of summer, others the invigorating cold of winter. What’s my favourite season, you ask? That’s easy. Softball season.

With the softball season a little under a month away (fingers crossed!) I was fortunate to chat with Michael Wright, the current President of the Sydney Outfielders Softball League.

The Outfielders are an LGBTQI mixed social slow-pitch softball league. They play on Tuesday evenings throughout summer, on the Robertson Road Fields in Sydney’s Centennial Parklands.

This is a league which welcomes all queer-identifying individuals and their allies, with no requirement of previous softball experience or skill.

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Rather, as Wright attests, “it is [about] finding people who for various reasons don’t see themselves in other sports leagues, don’t see themselves as having a home in those other leagues, and don’t necessarily know where their home or their community is.”

New Season Starts In October

With a tentative start-date of October 19, or “just as soon as the community health orders allow,” the Outfielders are hoping that players, new and old, will join them on the diamond.

Wright says, “we know people are keen to reunite and to connect after not just this current lockdown but essentially close to two years of intermittent breaks.” With an emphasis on rebuilding community the Outfielders hope their season will provide opportunities for just that.

“Anyone who has played with the Sydney Outfielders before can expect more of what they love,” Wright promises.

“More opportunities to connect with new and in-coming players as well as their existing friends and existing teammates; more opportunities for us to grow connections between teams, making sure that we are building confidence within our players; and more opportunities for players to reconnect with our community.”

COVID-Safe Environment For Players

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And you can be assured that creating a COVID-safe environment for their players is a key priority.

Wright acknowledges that, “as an LGBTQI league, but also more generally as a community organisation, we do have a number of players who are immuno-compromised or are at higher risk from COVID-19. I think that when we keep in mind those players we do have a duty and a responsibility to them to ensure that our league is as COVID-safe as it can be.”

In addition to the reflexive social distancing which results from proximity to swinging aluminium bats and high-speed projectiles, the Outfielders are highly encouraging vaccination for all their players, as well as ensuring regular sanitisation of equipment and player and spectator check-in at all games.

With the recent announcement that Hong Kong’s Gay Games will now be held in 2023, and with the Outfielders’ softball origins closely tied to the 1998 Gay Games held in Amsterdam, I asked if we might see an Outfielders contingent making the trip. While not ruling anything out, Wright’s mission is a local one.

Focus On Building A Strong Community

Image: Sydney Outfielders

“I think that after the year we’ve had, making sure that we keep our focus on retaining and building as strong a community as we can here in Sydney is our first priority.”

But he adds, “Just because there may or may not be players wearing Sydney Outfielders logos or Sydney Outfielders colours doesn’t mean that there won’t be Sydney Outfielders in Hong Kong, whether in player or spectator capacities. And we’ll certainly be there in spirit.”

The Outfielders would love to see more of you “getting out there and giving it a go.” So whether you’re craving community outside of your four walls, are looking for a new sport, or just simply want to fill a Tuesday night in summer, get in touch with the Sydney Outfielders or, better still, register to play via their new-look website: www.sydneyoutfielders.org.au.

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