This document has been written to help improve the League, providing a clear blueprint for accepted rules and expected conduct for both players and clubs. The document does not cover every eventuality and as the London Unity League continues to develop, so will this document via feedback and suggestions by clubs partaking in its running.
There’s a football revolution taking place in the capital,with more LGBT football teams playing now than ever. One 5-a-side group, Barnes Stormers FC, have been playing in Barnes every Wednesday for the past five years but are looking for new players. LUL News went along to find out more…
Anyone who is familiar with the LUL or LGBT-friendly football in the UK will know about some or all of the clubs across London. But perhaps not so many will know about a LGBT-friendly 5-aside session that is not part of one of the clubs, but has been quietly going on for many years.
Unlike the majority of LGBT football teams, Barnes Stormers FC host two hours of 5-a side football each week all year round (weather permitting) and have been doing so for well over 10 years now. They are unique in that they split attendees into three teams allowing for a round robin format. Games last 8 minutes meaning the action is fast and furious, one of the main attractions for regular Tom Jackson, “For me, coming back from a series of injuries, short spells of reasonably intense exercise is perfect to help me build back my fitness levels. Even better is that we still play during Summer often a dead time for football teams so it means my pre-season for 11 a side is so much easier than most of my team mates!! ”.
It’s not just the football that keeps people coming back though, Tom added “I first started back in 2013. I’d just finished Uni, come back home looking to broaden my friendship group and hadn’t played much football since school. Barnes Stormers was the best thing I could have done to improve my footballing ability, overall fitness and making new friends too. There have been many a heavy drinking session with these guys over the years and I’d count them amongst my closest friends.”
One of the regular players, Daniel, told LUL News: “I’ve been doing this about eight or nine years or more. When I first started coming, there were mainly gay players. And while I’ve been here, there’s a lot more straight people turning up, so it’s a nice good mix we’ve got.”
When asked why Barnes Stormers has lasted so long, Daniel replied, “It’s definitely the people you play with. “There’s a culture of going for a drink afterwards, where we talk about the matches we’ve had on the day.”
LUL News also spoke to Darren, who said, “I’ve been coming for 10 years. It was a place for me at a time in my life when I was sure who I was, but I thought that football and my sexuality didn’t go hand in hand. So it was nice to come down and meet a sociable group of guys and it took off from there.”
When asked what’s kept him coming, Darren said, “It’s the great friendships I’ve made. I have great fun with these guys outside of the football pitch. The standard improves every year. It keeps me young. I don’t play 11-aside anymore, so this is my way of keeping in touch with football.”
But not all players have been coming to Barnes Stormers FC for many years. Shane only started coming along in January. “I was looking for some football to play. For most of the leagues, you have to commit yourself for 10 weeks. This is better as you can just come and go.”
LUL News asked Darren what he would say to someone who is thinking of coming along? “Purely and simply, we are a group of guys that holds no prejudices – everybody’s welcome. It doesn’t matter your age, your sex your creed. We all get on great and there’s always a nice trip to the pub afterwards. From a personal perspective, from taking that leap of faith and doing it, I’ve made long-lasting friendships and that’s what this group’s got the ability to do.”
If you want to get involved with Barnes Stormers FC or want to find out more then you can join the Facebook group on the below link or contact Tom on 07931654721.
Barnes Stormers play every Wednesday, 7pm – 9pm, at Rocks Lane Multi Sports Centre, Barnes, SW13 0BY.