CO-ED GAY FLAG FOOTBALL LEAGUE ARRIVES IN RI
by Duane Gosley, Commissioner Photo by Patrick Lentz Photography
Rhode Island is already home to multiple queer sports organizations including: volleyball, softball, bowling, rugby and running. The co-ed Providence Gay Flag Football League (PVDGFFL) is excited to kick off their inaugural season this spring and join other leagues in being a great opportunity for LGBTQ+ folks to participate in recreational sports. Since its founding in 2002, the National Gay Flag Football League has launched active leagues in cities such as Boston, LA, San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, and New York. Our own Providence league will be the twenty-fifth expansion city. The league’s vision is to create a safe and inclusive environment where people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, can participate in a competitive and friendly team sport, develop a social support system, and build lifelong friendships. In addition to football, the league will engage other local non-profit organizations to donate time and resources to improve the lives of LGTBQ+ people in Rhode Island. The league has already partnered with AIDS Care Ocean State to begin their volunteerism program. After playing in Boston for six years, I wanted to bring the flag football experience to my new home of Rhode Island. My experience with Boston F.L.A.G. Flag Football gave me a sense of family in an adopted city. I will always remember football as the best part of living in Boston. The board, current and past, has done an incredible job creating a brand and experience that is second to none. I was impressed with the league’s commitment to community service, and the amount of effort that goes into social events
and engagement throughout the year. As commissioner, I want to build Providence Gay Flag Football so everyone can share the same experiences, memories, and friendships I’ve been so fortunate to have in Boston. Joining and participating in a gay sports league presents unique opportunities to meet new people, build friendships, and connect with your community. The experience is about so much more than time spent on the fields. Being part of a team who accepts you for who you are provides a rare moment to let down your guard and embrace yourself and your teammates. Assistant commissioner of the new league, John Zajicek, shared his experience with gay softball. “The one thing that anyone ever wants to feel is loved, and to be included. Unfortunately, for many LGBTQ athletes across the country, finding a place on the field in a safe and supportive environment is a rare occurrence. When I first came out as gay at 22, the only hobbies I had were sports. I began playing baseball at the age of eight and continued to play through my college days. I loved the sportsmanship, comradery, and teamwork that went into competing. I moved to Rhode Island in 2012, just two years after coming out. And in 2013, I discovered the Renaissance City Softball League. I quickly fell in love with the league, the people, and the pure opportunity to continue to play the game that I loved.” The National Gay Flag Football League has elevated their standing in the community over the last few years, especially through recent partnerships with NFL organizations across the country. Member cities including Boston, Denver, Phoenix, and Minneapolis
Options | February / March 2019
have secured sponsorships from their respective NFL teams as they continue to demonstrate the positive impacts their local flag football leagues have on the LGBTQ+ community. Duane and the PVDGFFL Board are proud to bring the NGFFL experience to Rhode Island. Providence Gay Flag Football is looking to recruit a diverse co-ed group of players representing every facet of our LGBTQ+ community. The league is open to players at all levels of ability. We encourage anyone interested in football to sign-up and join us this spring. Most players of other NGFFL leagues begin with little to no experience with competitive football. Part of our mission is to teach the game to our rookies. We use a team selection process that ensures balanced experience and skill levels across all teams in the league. PVDGFFL plans to offer leagues in the spring and fall, and field a travel team or teams to compete in national tournaments and the annual NGFFL Gay Bowl, which will be held in New York City in October 2019. Registration for the spring season is open February 4 – March 17. There is a limited number of spots; registration will close earlier if all positions are filled. Anyone who registers will be guaranteed a spot on a team. Games will be played outdoors on Saturday mornings in Warwick, RI beginning April 13.The spring season ends May 18. You can learn more and register on the PVDGFFL website: www.pvdgffl.org. Follow PVDGFFL on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @pvdgffl.