You may have thought by reading my column that the only GLBT sports organization in town is the rugby team. But another group of athletes that has been around a lot longer is becoming larger and larger every year. Not surprisingly, it’s the local GLBT soccer league.
Soccer, one of the most popular sports in the world, is growing in popularity in the States every year. A bonus with soccer is that it can be played pretty easily indoors, so it is available year round. And, it’s open to everyone—men, women, straight, or gay, the soccer teams want you.
I had an opportunity to head out to a pickup soccer game last winter. My interest led me to the newly formed MNGLBT Soccer Board, and Andrew Tibor, who until recently coordinated the teams. I wanted to learn more about just how people can get involved with the sport, and what goals the local GLBT teams have for 2008 and beyond.
Is there a specific GLBT soccer league?
Teams play in public leagues and the City Sports Connection League. There is also a team that plays with the National Sports Center in Blaine. We also put together our own GLBT league where we divided all players into equal teams who play each other. We did send a group to play in Philadelphia with their GLBT team in their first Liberty Bell Classic Tournament during Memorial Day Weekend.
What is the competition like?
With the teams that we put together that compete in other leagues, we would like to get to the point that we form more competitive teams. But we don’t have the amount of women that we need yet. Different leagues have divisions, which are usually recreational. Within our own league, each team has a variety of players with skills ranging from beginner to advanced. Our goal is to invite other GLBT teams here for a tournament, but we’re still pretty new, and getting our feet wet. Of course, we want to win, but we try to strive just to have fun. There are teams that take the games too seriously, and ruin the game for others. We try to make it a safe environment for everyone.
Are there regional competitions, or is it all local?
Pretty much everything that we do is regional for the most part right now. There are Regional Competitions in the IGFLA [International Gay Football League Association], but we haven’t gotten that far yet. The first tournament that we attended outside of Minnesota was in Philadelphia during Memorial Day Weekend. There are tournaments in the GLBT community year-round, though. There is also a World Cup every year—this year in London. In 2010, our goal is to go to Cologne, Germany, for the Gay Games.
What is your practice/playing season?
We are fortunate enough to play year-round. In the winter, we move indoors to Corner Kick Soccer Facility. There are also leagues with City Sports Connection that have games indoors at Augsburg, Holy Angels, and the University of Minnesota.
How can people start playing soccer?
Currently, there is open soccer for anyone that would like to attend on Wednesday and Friday nights. People are able to sign up to play with us by e-mailing us at mnGLBTsoccer@gmail.com. Once they e-mail us, they are added to our e-mail list, and they get all the updates. We usually like potential players to come out to a pickup game, so they can meet us, and feel comfortable before joining a league. We also have a Web site at www.mnGLBTsoccer.com. We encourage people to come out and join us all year, anytime!