I caught up with Fred – President of Straffe Ketten rugby club – for a behind-the-scenes look at life in an LGBTQ sports club in Brussels.
Is there a lot of interest in new players joining the club?
Each year, we hold two series of open training sessions – in September and January.
This year, there was a huge interest in the team – around 50 people contacted us to ask for information. Around 40 showed up at one of the sessions – mostly men but also some women.
How many players does the club need?
A team in the championship needs at least 35-40 guys to manage a full season.
We are open to new players each season. There’s always some turnover, with people moving around for work or other reasons.
The large number of players means that the coaches need to be highly organised to ensure that we’re delivering high-quality training sessions.
We also need discipline and focus from the players – 50 players on the pitch is the maximum that two coaches can handle.
We generally have around 40 players at each training.
If I was interested in giving rugby a try, do I need to know how to play rugby?
You can join the open session without any knowledge of rugby. We start from the basics with new players.
You don’t have to be a specific body type – that’s one of the great things about rugby, everybody has a place on a rugby pitch!
In the beginning, Straffe Ketten was established as a gay team. Over time, a number of straight guys have joined our squad. These days, we describe ourselves as an inclusive sports club.
So, to join us, you just need be yourself. Our only requirement is that you want to play rugby.
We’re regularly playing competitive matches – come and watch us play and see what it’s all about.
What do you hope that people feel when they’re part of Straffe Ketten RFC?
I hope they feel like they are part of our club and that they can be themselves. We’re committed to creating a safe environment that gives everyone in our club confidence and a feeling of safety. That support extends to when someone within our club is experiencing any personal issues. We take care of each other.
We always say that rugby is a ball game played with friends – when the ball disappears, the friendship remains.
Like many LGBTQ sports clubs, we sometimes also feel a bit like a dating agency – lots of couples have got together as a result of playing rugby with Straffe Ketten!
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