Rainbow Rovers FC launch ‘Eco-Kit’ for Pride ahead of Football United 2 match

Their first outing back in summer 2019 was a huge success, and now Sophie Cook’s Rainbow Rovers FC are preparing for a follow-up fixture – and they’ll be running out at Whitehawk FC in shirts sporting a Pride flag sash made from recycled plastic bottles…

By Jon Holmes

Sophie Cook with the David Shrigley-designed ‘Eco-Kit’ that Rainbow Rovers FC will wear for Football United 2

Rainbow Rovers FC will return to the pitch on Saturday, August 7, in a new eye-catching, eco-friendly kit with a Pride flag sash, designed by renowned visual artist David Shrigley.

The shirt which Rainbow Rovers players will wear in the ‘Football United 2’ match was unveiled by player-manager Sophie Cook at Whitehawk FC’s TerraPura Ground in Brighton, which will again be the venue for the team’s second charity match event.

Rovers, whose squad is made up of amateur LGBTQ+ footballers drawn from across the UK, beat a side of former professional players in their debut outing on Brighton Pride weekend in August 2019. The event was covered by Sky Sports.

Another Rovers vs ‘All Stars’ fixture has now been confirmed for Saturday, August 7, with a 3pm kick-off (gates open 1.30pm). Tickets for the Utilita-sponsored match are available to buy now, priced £5 adults and £2.50 for U16s, from the Whitehawk FC website.

Read more about ‘Football United 2’ in this feature on the Sky Sports website…

“Football United created so much positivity within the game and I was so honoured to lead the Rainbow Rovers team,” Cook tells Sports Media LGBT+.

“Every single member of our squad was a groundbreaker, someone that contributed to breaking down prejudice within the game.

Highlights of the first Football United match at Whitehawk FC in August 2019 – skip to 4:44 to watch Anwar Uddin’s long-range wondergoal!

“It’s an exciting time to be launching Football United 2 after the lockdowns of the past year.

“The squad are coming back together, we’ve some new additions, plus the support of Utilita, Huxley Digital, Hope and Glory, the FSA and, of course, Whitehawk FC.”

The Whitehawk club shop is already taking pre-orders for the new Rainbow Rovers shirt, as well as a blue goalkeeper’s jersey that also features the Pride flag sash (£40 adults, £30 juniors).

The ‘Eco-Kit’ by Hope and Glory Sportswear is made from recycled plastic bottles and features on the front the logo of sponsors Utilita.

The reverse of the shrt displays the logo of Huxley Digital who have designed the team’s new website, rainbowrovers.org.

The site outlines the Rainbow Rovers mission – to celebrate “football, community, and 100% inclusion” – and includes profiles of team members, including Cook herself.

She added: “Our new shirts carry the slogan ‘love is love’ and we will continue to play for greater diversity throughout football. After all, there is no place for hate in the beautiful game.”

Cook dedicated Wednesday’s launch to the memory of Leviathen Hendricks, the founder of East End Phoenix FC and former GFSN fangroups co-ordinator and secretary who played for Rovers in the August 2019 match.

Leviathen sadly passed away on May 28 – read our obituary here.

For more information, visit the Rainbow Rovers FC website and follow on social on Twitter and Instagram. If you’re a footballer who is LGBTQ+ and interested in playing for Rovers, or you’re just keen to support the event in a different way, email rainbowrovers@whitehawkfc.com.

Further reading…

Rainbow Rovers founder Sophie Cook wins British LGBT Award (Sky Sports, November 2020)

Whitehawk FC’s Sophie Cook: ‘I had to change my life, or end it’ (Guardian, August 2020)

Guy Butters on the story behind Football United (Sky Sports, August 2019)

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