First gay and transgender team in the Black Country to kick discrimination out of football
The first gay and transgender football team in the Black Country is set to try and kick discrimination out of the game when they join the Wolverhampton Sunday League.
Newly-formed Black Country Fusion FC, managed by Andy Corfield, began training last Tuesday, and are set to take on other gay and transgender teams from up and down the country in friendly clashes ahead of the 2016/17 season in the Beacon League.
Lesbian players also train with the team, and Sky Stewart, co-chairman of the team, is hoping Fusion can break down barriers and prove successful on the pitch.
Sky said: "I think there is a gap in the market, there are a lot of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who want to get into the game but feel like they can't because they'll be discriminated against.
"We want to give them the chance to come and play football in a safe environment with other people who won't judge them.
"We're going into the Beacon League in Wolverhampton on Sundays for the 2016-17 season, it'll be the first time a gay or transgender team has played in the league in Wolverhampton."
"The whole team isn't gay or transgender," Sky added. "We do have heterosexual players as well. The idea to to try and include everyone and break down barriers.
"The manager is openly gay, I'm openly transgender. Football should be about community, and that's what we're trying to achieve."
Growing up, Sky found it tough to get into the typically macho world of football. But now the Castlecroft Rangers and Wolves supporter hopes the new team helps the game become more accessible to people the gay and trans community.
Sky said: "A lot of it is about body, getting changed in front of men and that kind of thing might make people uncomfortable.
"We want to make a stand, we want to say to people 'we're here'."
"We started on Tuesday, we had our first training session," added Sky.
"We're going to be training at the college in Bilston.
"We've got about six pre-season friendlies organised. We've got a team from Manchester coming down and another one from Liverpool, so some big teams.
"We've got about ten players at the moment, so ideally we need another 10.
"I've got high expectations for the season, we've got some high class players."
Wolverhampton health insurance agency Paycare have offered sponsorship to to team, and will provide brand new home and away kits and equipment.
Anyone interested in joining the team can head along to training at the 3G pitch at City of Wolverhampton College, Wellington Road, Bilston, or call Sky on 07710 193990.
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