‘Why I’ve founded Proud Surrey – the UK’s first LGBTQ+ inclusive county cricket fans’ group’

Sam Schofield is a passionate cricket fan and staunch supporter of Surrey CCC. He explains why he’s set up an LGBTQ+ fans group for the club, discusses his belief in what the group can achieve, and shares one of his favourite Oval memories…

By Sam Schofield

Cricket coach Sam Schofield has had great support from Surrey CCC in setting up Proud Surrey, which launched earlier this month

Sam Schofield is the founder of Proud Surrey.

Proud Surrey is the LGBTQ+ supporters’ branch of Surrey County Cricket Club. It’s also the UK’s first LGBTQ+ inclusive County Cricket fans’ group.

We’re welcoming to anyone who is part of the community or an ally. We hope to provide people with another avenue to make more connections within the community and to provide a support network to enjoy the game of cricket.

Although homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia may not be big issues within cricket, there are nonetheless LGBTQ+ cricketers, coaches, fans, and those in other roles at all levels of the game, some who are out and some who are not. Our group will hopefully be of comfort and support to them all.

Grassroots clubs like Graces CC in Broxbourne, just north of London, and newly-formed Birmingham Unicorns CC are just the start of making the game truly inclusive of everyone. Having England international role models like Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt being so open about themselves is so important too.

I’ve been involved in cricket all of my life, from playing as a youngster to now being Head of Cricket at a school in South London, being a pathway coach for Surrey CCC, and more recently, a part of the England Physical Disability coaching structure.

As an out gay man, and having spoken to friends about this, we all agree that it’s important to be visible if you can, as you never truly know what people are going through – something as simple as Proud Surrey may help to change someone’s life for the better.

Aside from personal experiences within the sport, the inspiration for setting the group up has come from seeing how well supported the various LGBT+ football fans’ groups are and thinking that cricket can follow suit. I’ve known about Graces as a club for a while and when Birmingham Unicorns was created recently by Lachlan Smith, that was the lightbulb moment to contact Surrey and get things going.

Within two days of contacting the club, chief executive Richard Gould had agreed to have a chat with me and he was very supportive about setting the group up.

At this point, I must thank the numerous people who helped over Zoom calls to discuss ideas and give me advice – a special mention to Emily Pritchard, Conference and Events Sales Manager at Surrey CCC, who has been brilliant in these first couple of weeks.

As an avid Surrey fan, I have so many fond memories of watching the side, such as on a sold-out T20 night at The Oval, in Lord’s finals, and Championship matches like the famous six-run win against Lancashire in August 2018 with its Morne Morkel / Will Jacks combination. Within a few weeks of that victory, Surrey were crowned county champions.

Watch Morne Morkel’s six-for and Will Jacks’ astonishing one-handed reflex catch from Surrey’s win over Lancashire in August 2018

I’ve also been very lucky to be in the Surrey dressing room, when I was 12th man for a few days against Essex in 2014. To be on the hallowed turf in the same team as Steve Davies (who recently marked the 10-year anniversary of coming out publicly and the “positive response” that followed), Graeme Smith, Rory Burns etc, was something I’ll never forget. Being able to share these experiences and matches with new friends and like-minded people is something to look forward to.

Although Proud Surrey is very much in its infancy, we hope that the group grows and is the catalyst for other clubs to follow suit. Surrey CCC is a fun and welcoming place for everyone, but hopefully this will make the club even more welcoming and special for some, and the sport of cricket in general.

We would love to help the ECB with the Rainbow Laces week they run in the summer and with other events throughout the year as our group gets bigger.

We are looking for volunteers to help with the running of the group – if anyone is interested in this, please email info@sccclgbt.co.uk and follow us on Twitter at @SurreyCCCLGBT.

Thanks to Sam Schofield.

Further reading…

Georgia Adams: ‘Cricket needs LGBT+ role models – Steven Davies has my respect’

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