TRACING its history back to the mid-80s and the time of the San Francisco Gay Games when quirky fashion and moustaches were all the rage, the Harbour City’s premier group for LGBTI sport, Team Sydney, is calling for more people from across the city to get involved as it undergoes rejuvenation and regrowth.
Speaking to the Star Observer this week ahead of their AGM, Team Sydney president Ian Wilby said the group was now looking for new blood to progress its mission of promoting LGBTI sport and using its affiliations for the benefit of better health for the community.
“The last 10 years, people like Geoff Radford, Wally Salinger, Peter Manson, myself and some other dedicated souls have consolidated around Team Sydney and we’ve set down some standards that we think can go forward,” Wilby said.
“It is a time of regrowth and reinvigoration and I look forward to the changes that will come. They are inevitable. I think it’s going to be a very exciting time over the next six months or so, and the start of that is from this Wednesday.”
Among its members, Team Sydney counts the likes of much-loved LGBTI sports groups like the Wett Ones swimming club, the Sydney Stingers water polo club, the successful Sydney Convicts rugby club and the city’s LGBTI cycling group, Sydney Spokes.
“People like to feel comfortable together and that certainly is the case with Team Sydney,” Wilby said.
“We’ve had clubs drop in and out depending on their needs. Team Sydney is a value-added organisation. We do things on behalf of the clubs that can be better done as a group rather than by individual clubs.”
As for their plans for the future, Wilby said he and the old guard will stick around for about six months to help ease the transition to a new team that will hopefully be more in touch and at ease with social media and the new digital realities.
“What I’m hoping out of the AGM – and we have already had a number of people who have put their hands up as volunteers – is that we will have a more complete board for the future. They are all green and they know absolutely nothing about the running of the organisation so that it will take time to get their feet under the table and learn how things should work,” he said.
“I’m just as sure they will bring new insights into it so that there will be a lot more initiative taken.”
Team Sydney recently started a YouTube channel and it will hopefully be the first among many. He said people with a wide range of skills – including marketing, accounting, networking – and sports knowledge were welcome to join, but most importantly, they must share a sense of enthusiasm and fairness in both sports and life.
“Team Sydney started prior to the Gay Games II in San Francisco in about 1984-85. It wasn’t called Team Sydney then. It was called something like Sydney Sports and Arts. It copied the American process of the time because many people, particularly in the gay community, were in love with America at that stage. All the clothes, the moustaches,” he recalled.
“The youngsters – and I’m talking about people 30-40 years younger than me – are already saying that we are not making the best use of social media and I accept that. Social media is not my area of interest but we can see the value of things like YouTube and Facebook.
“One of the first things that will happen is that we will most likely integrate Facebook, YouTube and our sports newsletter,” he said.
“It is time for the younger generations to take up the cudgel and make the thing work in accordance with the needs of today and tomorrow.”
Photos: Members of the Wett Ones and Sydney Stingers (Ann-Marie Calilhanna)