Making Waves: Mannekenfish’s Decade of Championing LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in Water Polo

In 2012, the chlorinated waters of Ixelles bore witness to the birth of a trailblazing team – Mannekenfish. This LGBTQIA+ water polo team in Brussels has grown from a curious few to a robust group of over 60 members, training rigorously and fostering a strong community spirit.

A Decade of Evolution

Over the last ten years, Mannekenfish has undergone transformative changes. Initially inspired by queer Parisian players, the team has become a beacon of queer sports in Brussels. Their journey is marked by hard training, fantastic social events, and memorable experiences, like the Mannekenfish Drag Race and fundraising through unique calendars.

Diverse and Dynamic Team

Welcoming players irrespective of age, gender, or sexuality, Mannekenfish is a mosaic of diverse backgrounds, including Europe, Japan, Venezuela, and Mexico. Some members bring years of water polo experience, while others discover the sport with the team. Annual bootcamps help newcomers integrate and improve, fostering a supportive and skillful environment.

Competing on Global Stages

Mannekenfish’s competitive spirit shines through their participation in major queer sports events like the Gay Games and EuroGames. They’ve competed across continents and proudly host international teams in Brussels. Their collaboration with the Belgian Aquatics Federation underscores their commitment to excellence and inclusivity in the sport.

Championing Inclusion in Sports

More than just a sports team, Mannekenfish is a sanctuary for LGBTQIA+ individuals, countering homophobic and transphobic barriers in team sports. From marching in the Belgian Pride to creative demonstrations, they tirelessly advocate for accessible, inclusive sports environments free from discrimination.

Future Aspirations

Amidst a generational shift, the team’s immediate focus is on building cohesion and skill among its members. With ambitions to send multiple teams to future Euro Games and Gay Games, Mannekenfish’s long-term vision is to remain a formidable force in LGBTQIA+ water polo, continually breaking barriers and fostering inclusion.

Join the Splash

Follow Mannekenfish’s inspiring journey in redefining inclusivity in sports. Connect with their vibrant community and stay updated on their achievements in and out of the pool.