Players at LGBTQ-inclusive Brockwell United ‘proud’ to wear new Mary Earps-inspired goalkeeper kit

Published by Jon Holmes on

Rhia says joining beginners-friendly club Brockwell United changed their life “for the better”, while Rosie feels the Swans epitomise all that’s good about the fast-growing football scene for women, non-binary and genderqueer people; the players talk to Sports Media LGBT+ as Brockwell unveil a vibrant new jersey…

By Jon Holmes

Rhia and Rosie took part in a photoshoot for the new kit at Brockwell Park (all photos: Lucien Phoenix)

Standing out in a juicy shade of orange, with a sleeves design hinting at Keith Haring graffiti, Brockwell United’s new goalkeeper shirt is a piece of pop-art football fashion.

The south London grassroots club welcomes all women, non-binary and genderqueer people who want to play the game and find friendships into its family. The Swans were founded back in 2017 and Rosie has been playing with them for several years.

“I’m so proud to wear the Brockwell United shirt,” she says. “Grassroots football, and especially Brockwell, has provided the safe space I needed to fully embrace my sexuality.

“I feel part of a very special community. It’s such an exciting time to be part of a team for women and non-binary players.”

Rhia is a more recent recruit and as a shot-stopper, they’ll be sporting the new shirt in matches. They’re so happy at their decision to sign up.

“Joining Brockwell United has changed my life for the better,” explains Rhia. “Not only have I become obsessed with football as a whole, but it’s also given me a passion and purpose I have been looking for.

“I’ve always wanted to try it. When I joined in school, the teacher immediately decided to chuck me in goal with no experience beforehand, which I think worked out for the best because now I have no fear of when the ball comes towards me! It’s like a shot of adrenaline every time!”

Brockwell bill themselves as “beginners friendly” but they aim big when it comes to their kit launches. The home shirts they introduced in 2022 were super stylish and with designer Donatella Esposito again providing the sleeve illustration, their latest jersey is a tangerine dream.

Club chair Sophie Page says it’s a glowing tribute to No. 1s – the netminders who so often save the day for their teams.

“The new goalkeeper kit is fierce and bold and symbolises the respect we have for goalkeepers,” says Sophie.

“It can be a punishing role, but so rewarding in those difficult moments in a game.

“Even though the Lionesses lost their World Cup final game against Spain, as a team we celebrated hard when Mary Earps saved the penalty because we recognised the confidence and power required to make that type of save with the world watching.”

Esposito has ensured there is synergy with the 2022 design. The new ‘keeper’s shirt, manufactured by OLIK Sport, features a large illustration of a keeper stretching to make a save, while the outfield kit features players carefree and running for the ball.

Both kits incorporate the Brockwell club colours of orange, white and grey and feature the intersex-inclusive Progress Pride flag on the back. 

The club’s visible commitment to its values is appreciated by Rhia.

“I was a bit worried at first how the team would see me,” they say. “I’ve never really fit in anywhere and coming into a women’s team as a non-binary person was an anxiety of mine too.

“However, Brockwell United took me with open arms and I could not be more thankful of them.”

The Swans are sponsored by craft oat foods company MOMA, which has its roots in South East London. They are firmly part of the family too.

“Being sponsored by a great company like MOMA is an honour (we all love the porridge!) and having an official team kit really brings us together,” adds Rosie.

“It feels like finally people are getting behind us and celebrating what grassroots players bring to the world of football.”

The new kit is being launched on Saturday 20 April in an event to raise money for club partner, The Baytree Centre, a Brixton-based charity providing education and support to over 800 local women and girls. 

The event will begin with a screening of cult-classic film Bend It Like Beckham at Brixton brewery and taproom, Friendship Adventure.

The team look forward to celebrating how far women’s football has come since the film came out in 2002. A party with other local grassroots clubs will follow.

For Rhia, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate.

“Having people of all genders and sexual orientations, we create a more diverse and supportive environment where everyone can thrive,” they say.

“The bond I have with this team I will cherish as they have changed my life for the better.  As I continue my journey with Brockwell United, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be myself and play the game I love.”

Thank you to Brockwell United FC for sharing their news with us! Photography by Lucien Phoenix

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Jon Holmes

Digital Sports Editor