Proud Baggies FC will provide more opportunities for LGBTQ+ people and allies in the West Midlands to play competitive football; initiative, announced during annual Rainbow Laces activation, is being backed by the Championship club; fan group founder Piero Zizzi says it is the realisation of a long-held ambition…
Proud Baggies, the LGBTQ+ and allies fan group of West Bromwich Albion, is launching its own competitive inclusive football team.
The initiative is being delivered in collaboration with the Championship club, The Albion Foundation, and Sandwell Council.
‘Proud Baggies FC’ is dedicated to promoting inclusivity and diversity within football and represents a significant milestone for the fan group, which recently celebrated its sixth birthday.
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Having developed out of Friday night indoor sessions, the establishment of the team will help more LGBTQ+ people and allies in the local area to access competitive football and engage with a supportive community.
An open invitation is being offered to all those in and around West Bromwich who are passionate about football, regardless of gender, age, or skill level, emphasising the importance of unity and support among LGBTQ+ and allied communities.
“This has been a long-term ambition of ours,” said Piero Zizzi, the founder of the Proud Baggies fan group and a regular at both The Hawthorns on matchdays and on Friday nights at the Albion Foundation Community Sports Hall.
“Since our founding in 2017, we’ve worked with the club to create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ supporters at West Bromwich Albion.
“Now, following the success of our weekly football sessions and the clear demand and need within Sandwell and the Black Country, we are delighted to be able to provide a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ people and allies to play football competitively and wear the stripes with pride.”
The collaboration between Proud Baggies, West Brom, Sandwell Council, and The Albion Foundation signifies a collective dedication to fostering a culture of acceptance and equality within football.
As the new team takes its first steps, the vision extends beyond competitive play. Plans include participation in tournaments and the ambition to secure admission into a league by the 2024/2025 season, all with the aim of elevating the cause of inclusivity within football.
Training at the WBA Academy and wearing the distinctive blue and white WBA kit, the initiative is a true partnership between Proud Baggies, the club and the Foundation who have been unwavering in their support for the fan group over the years and particularly with this project.
Rob Lake, Director of The Albion Foundation, says: “Supporting Proud Baggies in establishing their own competitive team marks a pivotal moment in fostering inclusivity within the West Midlands football landscape.
“It’s inspiring to witness their commitment to creating opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals to showcase their skills, further amplifying the message of acceptance and diversity.
“Proud Baggies’ initiative aligns seamlessly with our mission at The Albion Foundation to promote equality and inclusivity in sports.”
The launch of Proud Baggies FC underscores the commitment of the collective partners to foster an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued within the beautiful game.
Anyone wishing to join Proud Baggies’ Friday night football sessions, join the competitive team, or become a Proud Baggies member can get in touch via email@example.com.
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