Adelaide United left-back Joshua Cavallo made headlines last month when he declared to the world, “I’m a footballer and I’m proud to be gay.” This is a sentiment shared by the Sydney Rangers, Australia’s first and Sydney’s only gay and inclusive men’s soccer club, and one which they have sought to give clearer expression to in their newly launched logo and brand.

This month I had the opportunity to sit down with two of the club’s leaders, Chris Hicks and Jacob Knero, to discuss their new look and the plans underway for the year ahead.

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Eighteen months of consultation, at all levels, have produced a modern emblem and a renewed commitment to play with pride. The shield and founding year have been retained from the previous badge, in a nod to club’s proud past, while the new rainbow bar across the shield’s top represents the club’s commitment to a proud future. The monogram, found in the shield’s centre, creates a heart shape, symbolising values at the club’s core – inclusivity and the power of football to unite.

 

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Training During Lockdown

Both Hicks and Knero attest to a strong desire within the Club to better reflect the club’s values with its branding. As Hicks explained, “We all kind of felt that it was a nice badge, but it didn’t really say anything about us. Now with the new logo, it obviously has the rainbow at the top, the ‘S’ and the ‘R’ form the love heart. It says a lot more about us, it’s modern and it’s going to look good for the next chapter, which is exciting.”

The club’s new kit will be rolled out across all six squads in time for the Rangers’ 2022 winter season in the Canterbury District Soccer Football Association (CDSFA).

 

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The Rangers’ 2021 Winter season, like so many, was cut short by the extended Sydney lockdown, but if their social scrimmages at Waverley Oval throughout November have been anything to go by then their game has lost none of its intensity.

Hicks and Knero both agree that members seemed train more during lockdown than they were renowned for doing during the season proper. And it’s a good thing too – because the Rangers have their eyes on the prize – retention of the Pride Football Australia (PFA) JF Cup.

‘Rivals on The Pitch, But Just One Community’

 

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Named for Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay professional footballer, the JF Cup is awarded to the winner of PFA’s Men’s Tournament.

Held annually, the JF Cup match is contested between the Sydney Rangers Football Club and the Melbourne Rovers Soccer Club. But while there is definitely a fierce rivalry between the two clubs – and Hicks is unequivocal in his desire for Sydney to retain the Cup in the coming year – it is a valued opportunity to come together as a community. As Knero describes, “Yes, you’re rivals on the pitch but afterward you’re just one community spreading that one message [of acceptance and inclusion] which is a really nice thing to be a part of.”

 

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In news eagerly awaited by the queer football community, PFA announced their plans for the 2021 (now 2022) tournament. The twelfth instalment will be held in Brisbane for the first time, hosted by Brisbane Inferno, February 4-6. The Julie Murray Cup will be contested alongside the JF Cup, between the Melbourne Rovers Soccer Club and Sydney’s Flying Bats Women’s Football Club.

World Championship XXIV

 

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The PFA Tournament kicks off an incredibly exciting 12 months for the Rangers and Bats, who, together with partner-city, Washington, have been named the host of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championship XXIV.

Washington will host the seven-per-side tournament in June 2022, with Sydney to host the 11-per-side tournament in February 2023, to coincide with the city’s World Pride celebrations.

As well as marking IGLFA’s 30th anniversary, the tournament promises to be a globally historic event for LGBTQI inclusion and diversity in football, with the clubs committed to delivering a series of “Diversity in Sport” panels.

Hicks explains, “When people come to World Pride and the World Championships it won’t just be about the football and going out for beers. It will also provide opportunities for discussion of First Nations inclusion, transgender inclusion – areas that we can definitely do a lot better in and I think we should be doing a lot better in.”

“My utopia would be a story like Josh Cavallo coming-out not being a story. For him to come-out and make global headlines for saying he was gay – a left-back from Adelaide – shows what a big step that still is. But my utopia would be that it isn’t in the future. And people like him are paving the way for that,” Hicks says.

So whether you’d like to get amongst the thick of winter competition, scrimmage socially throughout the summer months, or just share your love of the game in an inclusive environment, you can get in touch with the Rangers via their website. Alternatively, you can find them at the Beresford Hotel most Sundays where Hicks likes to, “make sure the taps are still working.”

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